Ex-service volunteers 'mucking in' for Hawke’s Bay recovery

Mon, Mar 6
Taskforce Kiwi Volunteer cleaning up silt.

Ex-service volunteers helping with the Cyclone Gabrielle recovery are calling for people to sign up and "muck in" for some hard mahi.

Taskforce Kiwi, a disaster relief group made up of ex-military and emergency service volunteers, has been in Hawke’s Bay, helping locals clear silt and clean up after Gabrielle ravaged the area.

1News caught up with Dan Woolwork, who, armed with a shovel, is helping residents clear silt from their flood-damaged homes.

He made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to help out, and is currently on a one-week rotation. He said he made the trip out of a need to get “stuck in.”

“We’re all coming from service backgrounds, so we want to get stuck in - at a personal level, it’s quite frustrating to sit at home and watch this, so to be on the ground swinging a spade, it makes me feel like I’m contributing,” he said.

“We’re all here because we want to help, and that's the best way we can.”

Woolwork and other volunteers have been travelling across Hawke’s Bay, helping locals to rip gib off walls, pull up carpets and remove silt in the hope their homes can be rebuilt.

It’s been a tough job, and the group is in dire need of volunteers to help on their next rotation.

Woolwork said diggers and manpower are the main things they need, and he's encouraging Kiwis from across the country to sign up, even if they aren’t ex-service.

“We are actively seeking volunteers for our next rotation; it’s not really about whether you're service or not; it’s about whether you want to help and are prepared to get dirty,” he said.

He told 1News the devastation has been “horrifying” and said helping is the best thing to do, as the cyclone hasn’t treated everyone fairly.

“At the end of the day, we're all people, and it does almost feel unfair, the random nature of the destruction,” he said.

“You’ll go along a given road, and one side of the street is obliterated, and the other side is fine, and it seems incredibly unfair that those people can carry on normal lives, and you’ve got people who have lost everything.”

Woolwork called on people to go to the Taskforce Kiwi website and sign up.

“It’s just about mucking in and getting the work done,” he said.

This afternoon Taskforce Kiwi announced a group of veterans from the US and Canada will be arriving in New Zealand tomorrow, to boost numbers and help on the ground.

"This a great example of the global veteran's network coming together to assist one another wherever required," a spokesperson said.


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