Cyclone Gabrielle: Hawke’s Bay floods – Amazing photo shows horse stranded on roof

How Cyclone Gabrielle shook the North Island, rebels release footage of captured Kiwi pilot and the US responds after shooting down another unidentified object in the latest New Zealand Herald headlines. Video / NZ Herald

A horse stranded on a building in flooded Hawke’s Bay that sparked a desperate rescue bid by animal lovers across New Zealand has been found dead.

The photograph, shared by the New Zealand Equestrian Scene Facebook page, showed the animal on the roof of a building on Dartmoor Rd in Puketapu, beside the Tutaekuri River.

An equine advertising specialist said in a post the roof the horse was standing on “gave in”.

They said they were unsure who the owner is but the animal was in “fat, healthy and loved condition”.


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“I can’t stop crying,” one woman wrote on seeing the image, which also shows another horse on a bank beside the flooded paddock that has consumed the building.

In an update this afternoon, New Zealand Equestrian Scene said with “profound sadness” that the horse on the roof had died.

They said the other horses were safe with hay and water.

One woman commented that she tried her best to get the horse rescued but she didn’t know how it was possible “unless you had a chopper”.


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”My heart and love go to the owners.”

Another said the outcome would be “devastating news” to any horse owner.

Follow the Herald’s latest coverage of Cyclone Gabrielle here.

An urgent plea went out on social media to help the stricken animal. Photo / NZ Equestrian Scene
An urgent plea went out on social media to help the stricken animal. Photo / NZ Equestrian Scene

Harrowing tales of locals attempting to rescue other animals have begun to emerge as communication links to the region begin to open up.

Alastair Needes and his wife have lived in Pakowhai, just outside Hastings, for 12 years. On Tuesday morning, Needes thought they were ready for the storm.

“We knew that obviously the river was getting high and we kept checking on the river and we thought it was going to be okay,” he said.

“And then I was checking on the neighbours and got a lady out of her house that wasn’t well so we could get her to the hospital.

“And then suddenly the water started coming across the road and I tried to help my neighbour with her horses.

“And then the water just came up to about my waist height and then I went over to check my wife and she was up on the roof at the house and I got on the container.


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“I couldn’t keep the horses alive.”

Needes is a professional dog trainer. He lost his three dogs in the flood.

“I was watching it come up the fence and then watching it come up the side of the container thinking, ‘s***, this is just going to be a disaster’.

“I was going to jump off the shipping container and try and swim to another house and get on the roof of another house. And I was just thinking I was going to die.”

Fortunately he and his wife were airlifted from the rising waters by helicopter at the last minute.

Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti Gisborne were completely swamped by floodwaters yesterday and are struggling with the loss of homes, roads, power, phones and the internet.


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Eastern District Police have released a new online tool to assist with the search for unaccounted-for people.

Police are urging people to let them know if they believe someone to be at risk by filling in a Person Inquired For form.

They are also asking people to register that they are safe and alive by submitting a ‘Registering I’m Alive’ form.

Concerned families have taken to Facebook to locate loved ones they have not heard from.

One post reads that a 9-year-old boy and his father have not been heard of since 6am yesterday, at which time they were on a rooftop and surrounded by rising water.

Another post reads that a Tauranga man has not heard from his elderly parents, who live in the Masonic Village in Taradale, Napier.


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A woman made a post to find her aunty, who has not been heard from since before the floods began.

According to the woman, her aunty, who is based in Marewa, was made to drive to work and no one has seen or heard anything from her since.