Community, Collaboration, and Long-Term Partnerships 

Extreme weather events test the resilience of communities and infrastructure. New Zealand's experience with storms in 2023 offers valuable insights for emergency preparedness and response. 

From repairing broken roads, to clearing slips up to 120 metres long and fixing telecommunications lines and downed power poles, Ventia was required to reconnect our communities following the havoc that cyclone Gabrielle and the ensuing floods created when they ravaged the North Island last year. 

Key Learnings:

Stronger Communities, Stronger Response:  

  • We foster a sense of community stewardship (kaitiakitanga) through long-term partnerships between infrastructure providers, local authorities, and residents is crucial.
  • Established relationships enable better communication, collaboration, and a more coordinated response during emergencies.

The Value of Long-Term Contracts:  

  • Long-term contracts between infrastructure providers and contractors create stability and allow teams to develop in-depth knowledge of local infrastructure and communities.  
  • This local knowledge is invaluable for prioritising repairs, addressing specific needs, and ensuring faster recovery.  

Collaboration is Key:  

  • Effective emergency response requires seamless collaboration between various stakeholders – infrastructure providers, emergency services, civil defence organisations, and subcontractors.  
  • Established protocols like CIMS (Crisis Incident Management System) can facilitate coordinated decision-making and resource allocation.  

The Power of Shared Values:  

  • Integrating values like care (manaakitanga) and guardianship (kaitiakitanga) into emergency response plans prioritises public safety and community well-being.  
  • Focusing on these values ensures that infrastructure teams go the extra mile to keep communities safe and reconnected. 


  • It’s critical to prioritise preparedness through training in CIMS and emergency response protocols.  
  • Maintain clear communication channels among team members and external stakeholders, and foster coordination and collaboration among team members and external agencies involved in the response effort.  
  • With all the weather events occurring now, organisations must develop a comprehensive emergency response plan tailored to storm events.  
  • Conduct thorough risk assessments and implement mitigation measures.  
  • Effectively manage resources, including rostering, logistics, supplies, and equipment. 
  • Engage regularly with affected communities.   


The breadth and scope of our business and capabilities allows us to provide hazard and disaster response to communities across Aotearoa, including Northland, Auckland, Thames-Coromandel, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Tairāwhiti (East Coast).  

Whether reconnecting power to Hawkes Bay, draining and reopening Fanshawe Street, ensuring clean potable water for communities in Northland or clearing roads in the Coromandel, our team had to show manaakitanga (care and kindness) in all they did. Often the mahi we were doing each day was saving lives, or reducing the impact of the storms on the people we live near, including our own employees 

The Non-Negotiables


The importance of local knowledge and pre-established relationships with subcontractors for rapid response and repairs


The critical role of telecommunications teams in restoring communication networks, enabling information sharing and coordination 


The need for flexibility and adaptation in emergency situations, prioritising safety and meeting the most critical needs first 

Actions Taken


  • Over 100 cell towers were down on the 2degrees network, a lot of this due to disconnected power. To keep the network running (particularly in the short term), the team had to zip between cell sites with generators to keep batteries charged.  
  • Our Energy, Networks & Renewables teams, and Telco teams have played an instrumental role in restoring power and communication lines in the affected areas of Northland, Auckland, and Hawke's Bay, with diesel generators deployed to power essential cell towers and wireless sites.   


  • Our water teams were consistently testing water and sewage levels keeping safe water flowing in Northland and as they were dealing with the deluge of stormwater.  

Auckland West 

  • Over 100 households in Waitākere were cut off and isolated due to an unstable road caused by a slip. After the evacuation, our teams quickly moved in to stabilise the road and establish a temporary road, allowing access for the community. Throughout the process, the community remained well-informed and our teams actively engaged in door knocking, letter-drops and providing regular online community updates in collaboration with Auckland Transport.   

Thames Coromandel  

  • In 10 days, the region received more rain than they typically do in all of July - which is typically their wettest month.  This caused a number of operational challenges that come with keeping things open. The Ventia teams, who normally handle 70 open customer requests at a time, ramped up to managing over 437.  

Hawkes Bay 

  • Transpower tasked us the restoration lead at Redclyffe substation. Initially working to make primary modifications and commission the temporary bypass of the damaged Redclyffe substation in Napier, restoring power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the area.   

Palmerston North/Napier 

  • The Palmerston North Alliance mid central team delivered a 110kva generator to ensure uninterrupted power supply to Health NZ Te Whatu Ora Napier Health Centre, from the Palmerston North Hospital during Napier's severe isolation 

These learnings can be applied to improve emergency preparedness and response strategies worldwide. By prioritising community engagement, fostering long-term partnerships, and emphasising collaboration, communities can build greater resilience in the face of extreme weather events.