Helping fellow men across the Tasman

Helping hands: Phil Glover and Darryl Bird have organised a donation drive of around $8000 worth of goods to aid the cyclone Gabrielle recovery. Photograph Zaida Glibanovic



TRARALGON residents Phil Glover and Darryl Bird from the Gippsland Peoples Council have worked to amass $8000 worth of clothing donations to go toward recovery relief in New Zealand following the devastating Cyclone Gabrielle earlier this year.

Cyclone Gabrielle overcame New Zealand with strong winds and heavy rain in mid-February, adding to what was already an unusually wet start to the year. The extreme weather brought destructive flooding, storm surge, and landslides to the region, killing 11 people and displacing at least 10,000 more with clean-up efforts still underway.

New Zealand native Phil Glover organised the donation as the impacts of the cyclone are still being felt two months after the disaster.

“The cyclone that took out a large part of the east coast of the Island, well, I’ve got family living over there. They weren’t in the worst part of it they were on the fringe, but when they cleaned their property up, they started helping others that were less fortunate,” he said.

“I reached out to them to ask if there was anything that we could do from here, and they said they needed clothes and blankets. The people that have been displaced have lost their homes and everything in them … they’ve got nothing”.

The Gippsland People’s Council was formed 18 months ago, beginning with only 10 people. Having now expanded to 250 members, the group aims to advocate for the local community and to bring positive change.

Another organiser of the donation drive, Darryl Bird, said that the struggles of those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle have gone unheard.

“You don’t hear anything about it. They’re devastated they’ve lost houses, they’ve lost everything,” he said.

Because of Mr Glover’s personal connection to the New Zealand disaster and Mr Birds’ love to help out a mate, the pair were more motivated than ever to assist, turning to their People’s Council for more donations.

The pile of donations grew from a single bag of Mr Bird’s coats to a massive pile of necessities, with Mr Glover’s man cave packed with blankets, towels, clothes and other essential items.

“That’s the generosity of all our people,” Mr Bird proudly stated.

The donation pile is so large that the pair must ship it over as opposed to an air carrier over to the port of Napier (the closest port to the damage) in New Zealand.

“I’ve liaised with the civil defence and the council over there, and they’re going to grab it off the wharf and take it to civil defence headquarters and distribute it from there,” Mr Glover explained.

The pile of donations was shipped on Friday to arrive on the ground in New Zealand within three days, where those donations can be put straight to use.

New Zealand’s Cyclone Gabrielle made history as the costliest tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere, causing upward of around $8 billion in damages for the country.