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Hundreds rescued from Hastings area

Trapped workers and families “grateful” for NZDF’s efforts in crisis

15 February, 2023

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NZ Army convoy in Hastings

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A group of seasonal workers stranded by floodwaters in Hawke’s Bay are just some of the people who have been rescued and taken to a local evacuation centre in the past 24 hours.

The group were rescued near Hastings by personnel from the New Zealand Army and New Zealand Police using four Unimog trucks on Tuesday.

Also yesterday, crew on three Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopters rescued 23 people and five dogs, including by winching people off roofs of houses. Medical supplies were also delivered to a medical centre in Napier.

In some cases, flood waters were up to the second story of homes where people were being rescued. 

The teams of Air Force and Army personnel were working concurrently to rescue residents.


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NZ Army Second Lieutenant Judge Gregory said the teams rescued about 50 to 60 people in that particular area, and they were grateful to be picked up. 

“The floodwater was waist high, but the Unimog tyres and massive clearance meant we were able to get into the elevated areas needed to reach the seasonal workers.”

Earlier on Tuesday when water banks burst, it flooded the agricultural landscape surrounding Hastings, leaving hundreds cut off from town.

“We were sent to support those areas and evacuate families trapped in homes,” he said.

Overall, the NZ Army teams had rescued about 200 people, with that number still climbing.

In Hastings, the NZ Army were operating with seven Unimogs and a police officer was allocated to each truck to help with navigation and traffic control. 

Police determined high priority areas for the New Zealand Defence Force to respond to.

Second Lieutenant Gregory said people they rescued were glad to see them.

“Heaps of waves and smiles but there’s quite a bit of heartbreak when we are driving past.

“When we pick up people they are pretty grateful.”