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Disaster Relief

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Disaster Relief

Credit and debt

For individuals and their whānau

I need money urgently, can I get financial support?

There is support available for people affected by flooding, see “Financial support” for more information about emergency funding and benefits.

What are my options if I can’t afford my regular loan payments?

If a natural disaster has affected your income, you may be able to make a hardship application to change your regular loan payments with your bank or lender. This can only be for the amount needed to help you make your regular payments.

When you make an application, the bank or lender has to treat your request fairly and reasonably. They will discuss the options available, but they do not have to agree to your request.

You can make a hardship application if:

  • you have a personal loan, home mortgage, personal credit card or other consumer lending, and
  • you can’t make your repayments due to an unforeseen hardship, like job loss or damage caused by a natural disaster.

You can ask for your contract to be changed by either:

  • reducing how much you have to pay in each repayment period, or
  • pausing your repayments for a period of time (taking a “repayment holiday”).

These options can give you some breathing space in the short term, but they might increase the total amount owing on a loan, or how long it will take you to pay it off

You can decide which type of change you want to request in your application. The lender has to consider your application but they don’t have to agree to your request if they do not think you meet the requirements. If the lender doesn’t accept your request, they have to set out the reason for their decision in writing and include a clear summary of your rights to apply to the court to change your contract terms.

Is there a time limit to making a hardship application?

There is a set timeframe to make a hardship application if you’ve already defaulted on your repayments.

You lose the chance to make a hardship application if:

  • you’ve been in default for two months or more, or
  • you’re in default and you’ve missed four or more payment due dates in a row.

If the lender has issued you a repossession warning notice or a Property Law Act notice and you remain in default, you lose the right to make a hardship application after two weeks.

If you are out of time to make a hardship application, you can still discuss your lending with your lender – they just no longer have a legal obligation to consider it. They might be able to offer you help such as temporary overdrafts, loans, or one-off payments.

For more information on making a hardship application see the Commerce Commission guidance here.

What if I have credit card repayment insurance?

Some people may have taken out insurance to help them pay their loans when they cannot meet repayments – for example, credit card repayment insurance. You should check what insurance policies you have, and whether they apply.

Am I eligible for relief from my local council’s Mayoral Relief Fund?

You might be eligible for relief from your local council’s Mayoral Relief Fund. Local councils in the regions affected by Cyclone Gabrielle (Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Thames-Coromandel, Hawke’s Bay, Tararua, Wairarapa, Taranaki and Taupō) have set up Mayoral Relief Funds. These funds are run by local councils and are meant to quickly help people recover from emergencies.

See “Financial support” for more information about the fund and how to apply.

Am I eligible for a Civil Defence Payment?

Work and Income is offering Civil Defence Payments to help cover the cost of food, bedding, clothing and accommodation. The payment can also cover loss of income if you can’t work due to Cyclone Gabrielle (for example, if you can’t get to work, or if you need to care for a child while their school is closed).

See “Financial support” for more information about the payment and how to apply.

Something I bought on hire purchase was damaged by flooding. Do I still have to pay for it?

If you bought something on hire purchase, buy-now-pay-later or a credit card, you’ll still have to repay the money you owe – even if the thing you bought is no longer usable because of flood damage. You should check your contract with the lender – you may need to let the lender know that the item is no longer usable.

This includes, for example, if you bought a car on hire purchase, or a TV using Afterpay.

If you have insurance, you can still make a claim for the items. You should let the lender know you’re doing this. If the claim is accepted for the full cost of the purchase, you’ll need to use this to pay what’s left owing to the lender.

Financial support fordisabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori

There is dedicated funding to support disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori and their households if affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. You can access up to $1,000 to help with payment of services and equipment you can’t get funded through other contracts. For example: if your home has been affected by flooding, you may need to pay a cleaner to help with the clean up. You can apply through these organisations:


  • CCS Disability Action Bay of Plenty Incorporated
    • Areas covered: Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Hawkes Bay, Waikato
    • Phone: 0800 227 2255 or 07 578 0063
    • Email:bop@ccsdisabilityaction.org.nz
    • Website: www.ccsdisabilityaction.org.nz
  • Autism New Zealand
    • Areas covered: Auckland
    • Phone: 09 846 0913
    • Email: auckland@autismnz.org.nz
  • Carers NZ
    • Areas covered: Auckland, Northland
    • Phone: 021 277 2401
    • Email: help@carers.net.nz
  • Hōhepa Hawkes Bay
    • Areas covered: Hawkes Bay
    • Phone Laura: 027 259 2385
    • Website: hohepahawkesbay.com
    • Or visit the Hōhepa Hawkes Bay Community Drop In Centre: 258 Gloucester Street, Taradale

For more information about the dedicated funding, see the MSD website here. You aren’t able to apply for funding for purchases you’ve already made, so get in touch with the provider in your area before you pay for anything.

You can’t use this funding for:

  • services, devices, equipment or support already funded through other contracts, or
  • alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, or vaping products, or
  • purchasing a vehicle, or
  • food (this should be covered by the Food Secure Communities Programme and/or and Special Needs Grant),
  • items already purchased, or
  • gambling purposes (such as Lotto products), or
  • purchasing cash assets (Cash Assets – WINZ), or
  • ongoing costs, such as subscriptions.

Who is eligible to get dedicated funding for disabled people?

People who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments can access this funding. You don’t have to be on any disability support, such as the Disability Allowance, to be able to access this funding.

The eligibility is based on the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). For more information on the CRPD, see the “Disability Rights” chapter in the Community Law Manual.

The service provider or agency (listed above) will assess your needs and help determine if you are eligible for this funding.


For Community Groups and providers

Is there disaster relief funding for community groups?

Community groups can apply for up to $3,500 of funding via MSD. Community groups include local marae, whānau, hapū, or iwi, ethnic community organisations, faith based or religious and church groups, community hubs and not-for-profit organisations, and social enterprises.

Your community group will need to show that they are:

  • working directly with communities in the flood or cyclone response, and
  • not social sector providers, councils or accredited providers, and
  • able to report back to MSD about the delivery, reach and impact of their initiatives, and
  • able to agree to the terms and conditions of the grant which can be found on the MSD website, here.

Your community group can use this funding to:

  • keep operating as usual, and
  • help members of the community, providing access to things like shelter essential goods, and mental health support, assisting with school attendance, supporting mental health and helping with financial hardship.

Your community group must use this funding by 30 June 2023. The funding can’t be used for the promotion of commercial, political, or religious objectives, or for insurance costs.

You can find out more about the fund, and apply online, on the MSD website, here.

Is there disaster relief funding for community providers?

Community Providers can apply for up to $7,000 of funding via MSD. Community Providers are organisations that already have government contracts in the social sector. This includes those funded by MSD, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry for Ethnic Communities and the Department of Internal Affairs.

The funding can be used by the Community Provider to:

  • continue to deliver response and recovery efforts, and
  • respond to increased demand for services, and
  • support wellbeing of the Community Provider’s staff and volunteers.

Funding must be used by 30 June 2023 and cannot be used to generate a profit, or promote commercial, political or religious objectives.

Community Providers will need to show that they:

  • are working directly with communities in the flood or cyclone response,and
  • are able to report back on reach and impact of initiatives, and
  • agree to the terms and conditions of the grant which can be found on the MSD website, here.

Community Providers can make applications by completing one of the online forms on the Ministry for Social Development website, here and emailing it to:Providercapability_2020@msd.govt.nz.


For small businesses

My small business has been affected by flooding. Can I get extra funding from my bank?

Many lenders and banks are offering extra help to customers who have been affected by the cyclone or floods. They might be able to offer your small business help such as temporary overdrafts, loans, or one-off payments.

Check your bank or lender’s website for details, call them or visit a branch to ask about this extra help.

You should also check what insurance policies you have, and whether they apply to damage or loss caused by the cyclone or flooding.

My small business has been affected by flooding. Is there any government support available?

Following Cyclone Gabriel, you can apply for a grant of up to $40,000 to help your business keep operating and maintain cashflow. You will need to meet the following criteria:

  • you are self-employed, a sole-trader, or an employer (regardless of how many employees you have), and
  • your business is located within one (or more) of the affected regions (Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, or Tararua districts),and
  • you are facing serious cashflow issues due to continued challenges with customer access, ability to source stock, supply chain issues, inability to operate as usual due to the physical damage to equipment or premises, or delays in insurance assessment and repairs,and
  • your business is otherwise viable both before and after the flooding,snd
  • you are not receiving funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries recovery fund (details of this are set out below), and
  • you commit to treating your employees fairly and acting in line with employment law.

There may be further criteria to meet depending on the local partner or organisation providing the grant. Check all the details before you apply.

Further information can be found on the government Business website here.

Is there specific support for primary sector businesses?

If your small business operates in the primary sector, you may be eligible for funding. The Ministry of Primary Industries is offering grants to small businesses in primary sectors. These grants are to kick-start recovery for farmers, growers, and whenua Māori owners who are significantly affected by the cyclone or floods. You can apply for:

  • $10,000 to help with initial recovery on-farm, such as repairs to water infrastructure for stock and fencing, and/or
  • $2,000 per hectare, up to a maximum of $40,000, to remove silt from trees and vines, support clean-up and other time-sensitive work.

You will need to complete the application form (which can be found on the MPI website, here) and email it to funding@mpi.govt.nz. You should keep copies of records, like invoices, receipts and quotes, as you may be asked to provide this information.

Further information can be found on the MPI website, here.

Can I get help with farm debt?

Farm Debt Mediation Act 2019

If your business is struggling with farm debt, you may be able to get help through the farm debt mediation service. This is a service which helps farmers and other primary producers struggling with debt.

You can request farm debt mediation with your lender if:

  • your business operates in the rural sector, and
  • you have a loan secured against property that is used in connection with farming, or a primary production business, including:
  • farmland,
  • farm machinery,
  • livestock,
  • harvested crops, and
  • wool.

If you’re eligible, you can request this mediation at any time. Your secured creditors have to offer mediation before taking debt enforcement action against you. Mediation under the scheme can include tikanga principles.

See the Ministry for Primary Industry’s website, herefor more information.

Are there any Māori-specific support packages available for small businesses?

Māori-owned small businesses may be able to get funding through Māori-specific support packages. The Government has announced a $15 million recovery package to support the Māori response to the cyclones and flooding. This funding will be distributed by Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Arawhiti, and Whānau Ora.

Te Puni Kōkiri

Iwi, hapū and marae trusts and incorporations, plus other Māori entities and providers in affected areas may be able to access this funding individually through Te Puni Kōkiri. Te Puni Kōkiri is offering funding for:

  • Capacity support (such as relief staffing, clean-up expenses, generators and communication equipment), and
  • Costs associated with recovery planning and co-ordination, and
  • Marae infrastructure and support costs (such as securing temporary storage for taonga and food).

For more information, contact your local Te Puni Kōkiri office.

Te Arawhiti

Te Arawhiti is offering grants to support the Māori-led response to the recent cyclones and flooding. This funding will be given directly to iwi organisations (rather than to Māori small businesses) to undertake activities within the following areas:

  • Communications outreach – support for Māori relationship activities, strategic leadership and coordination (such as communications engagement with wider Māori communities, including developing bespoke communications material, website updates and staffing for wellbeing calls),
  • Response work – support for iwi to fund programmes of work outside of other funding initiatives that are required to recover from recent adverse weather events in their region,
  • Engagement – support for iwi in particularly impacted areas to engage in wider Crown recovery initiatives.

Te Arawhiti will consider requests for funding between $25,000 and $100,000 (and for more than $100,000 in exceptional cases). The exact amount depending on the size and need of each iwi.

Te Arawhiti encourages iwi to collaborate and coordinate their requests for funding, such as through iwi collectives. You could contact your iwi collective representative or community leader to find out whether your iwi has already applied and what support might be available to your Māori small business.

To apply, your iwi will need to submit a funding proposal to Te Arawhiti using this form. See Te Arawhiti’s 2023 Iwi Response Funding for Adverse Weather Events fund page and the Funding guidelines for more information.

Whānau Ora

Whānau Ora will distribute funding through Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to manage communications and coordination and to augment and deploy workforce to impacted regions. Again, this support is not directly available to Māori small business but to the Māori community more generally. You can get in touch with Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency on their website here.

Further resources



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