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Disaster Relief

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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 (or, go to comcom.govt.nz and search “hardship application”).

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?

If you’ve been affected by a natural disaster or extreme weather event, you may be eligible for one-off assistance from your local council’s Mayoral Relief Fund.

These funds are run by local councils, though the government often contributes to local relief funds in cases of emergency.

See “Financial support” for more information about the fund and how to apply, or go to: www.localcouncils.govt.nz to find your local council website for more information.

Am I eligible for a Civil Defence Payment?

Work and Income can help with 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 an extreme weather event or natural disaster (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 for disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori

Following Cyclone Gabrielle, dedicated funding was set up to support disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori and their households if affected by the natural disaster. You could 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 was affected by flooding, you may have needed to pay a cleaner to help with the clean up. You may still be able to apply for funding 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.  The fund isn’t available for purchases you’ve already made.

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.

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

For Community groups and small businesses

Is there disaster relief funding for community groups and providers?

Community groups and providers were able to apply for funding via MSD following Cyclone Gabrielle, but applications for this support closed in April 2023. You can find out more about the fund, and who was eligible, on the MSD website, here.

My small business has been affected by flooding. Can I get financial support?

Small businesses, orchards, and farms significantly impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle are still eligible to apply for financial support through the loan guarantee scheme. This includes businesses in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Tararua, and Wairarapa.

The loan guarantee scheme is available until June 2024. It lets commercial lenders (like banks) provide loans with more favourable terms to highly affected businesses — for example, by offering reduced interest rates.

The scheme is administered by the New Zealand Export Credit Office. For more information, see the guidance on the Treasury website, here.

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

For more information about support that was available before September 2023, see the guidance 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, or
    • farm machinery, or
    • livestock, or
    • harvested crops, or
    • 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 MPI’s guide to farm debt mediation, here, for more information (or, go to mpi.govt.nz and search “farm debt mediation”).

Further resources



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