And then there was a cyclone!

The upper North Island of New Zealand has had a record-breaking summer for all the wrong reasons – and now Cyclone Gabrielle has wreaked yet more havoc. Formed in the Coral Sea, Gabrielle bore down on the North Island on February 12, causing flooding and landslips from the next day, heaping further misery on those places that were devastated by flooding caused by an ‘atmospheric river’ from January 27. Tauranga has been affected by both events, but escaped relatively lightly compared to other places.

The late afternoon sky over Waikato on February 12, 2023 as Cyclone Gabrielle approached. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Gabrielle’s reach extended all the way down the North Island and flicked back up the west coast of the island, although as the centre of the storm moved eastwards, parts of the South Island were affected too. The Prime Minister has called it the worst weather event to hit the country so far this century and a national state of emergency was declared.

the leaves coming down in it –
the cat’s fur parted
to the skin

Gary Hotham
The Haiku Seasons (1996)

fields flooded
beneath the surface, somewhere
the river bends

Christopher Herold
Woodnotes 17 (1993)

looks like the rough sea
on the sweet potato field –
a storm rages

Tsuji Momoko
Far Beyond the Field (2003)

New Zealand’s prime growing area for kumara (sweet potato) has now been badly hit twice with flooding, just one of many food crops devastated, along with plenty of pasture.

tornado siren
the wind lifts a sneaker print
from home plate

Chad Lee Robinson
The Heron’s Nest 20.2 (2018)