Cyclone Gabrielle
key advice for retailers

Key advice for retailers

This is a good reminder for all businesses to be prepared, we have advice to support
business continuity planning and what to do if you are impacted by a natural disaster.

We have also summarised a list of frequently asked questions to help you manage questions around
team members pay, leave, and dealing with red or yellow stickered premises.

Westpac offers relief options to customers affected by flooding

Westpac NZ is offering financial support to their personal and business customers affected by flooding in the Auckland region and Cyclone Gabrielle in the North Island.

The relief package features a range of possible support options:

  • Suspension of principal payments for up to three months on home loans and business loans;
  • Deferred payment on business credit cards for up to three months;
  • A temporary overdraft facility for business customers.

Consumer customers requiring access to term deposit funds should also contact the bank. Find out more here.

Anyone who needs assistance should call our Contact Centre on 0800 400 600.

Customers with Westpac home or contents insurance can make a claim at our underwriters here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The New Zealand Government has declared a National State of Emergency, to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle. The declaration also applies to the six regions that have already declared a local State of Emergency: Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawkes Bay. 

A National State of Emergency gives the National Controller legal authority to apply further resources across the country and set priorities in support of a national level response. 

Current advice from NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) is: 

  • Put safety first. Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water.
  • Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.
  • Stay at home if it is safe to do so. But have an evacuation plan in case your home becomes unsafe to stay in. 
  • If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home. 
  • People should stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of civil defence and emergency services. 
  • Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles. Flood water is often contaminated and can make you sick. 

The most important thing is to keep in touch with your employees, firstly to make sure that they and their families are okay, and secondly to ascertain what is happening for them. 

It is important to remember that NZ employment law does not specifically provide for what is to happen after a natural disaster occurs.  

When assessing an employee’s current situation, you will need to consider a number of factors: 

  • what the employee’s employment agreement specifies (does it contain a ‘force majeure’ clause?) 
  • what your businesses own policies and procedures say. 
  • the reasons why the employee is not working. 
  • the current state of your business and workplace.  

In such a unique situation as this, wherever possible we recommend that as a first step, employers try to seek agreement with their employees, and try to remain open to flexible solutions. 

When it comes to payment for time away from work in a situation when an employee is ready and willing to work but can’t get there, or the employer can’t open their business, then typically the day should be considered a paid day if the employer has advised the employee not to come to work.  

Auckland Council is undertaking rapid building assessments to determine whether a building is safe to occupy, and whether it poses any risks to safety.  

Following an inspection, a building will receive either a white, yellow or red sticker. 

The placards are a legal instruction and only authorised officials can place, change or remove them. 

White placards indicate a building has suffered light or no damage and can be used. However, a white placard doesn’t necessarily mean the building is safe, as there could be unobserved damage. Owners of white-stickered buildings may still want to get their own engineering checks done. 

Yellow placards indicate a building may have sustained moderate damage and access is restricted. This generally means either some identified areas of the building pose a significant hazard and cannot be used, or that the public cannot enter except under supervision for a limited time on essential business. This could include emergency or assessment purposes, for example, or removing critical business records, valuables and property. 

Red placards indicate a building cannot be used and entry is prohibited because it has sustained moderate or heavy damage and poses a significant risk to health or life. This could be from the building itself, from external factors such as adjacent buildings, or from ground failure. 

Building owners have a responsibility to ensure their buildings remain structurally sound following a major disaster. They must also continue to comply with their obligations in relation to health and safety, tenancy and lease agreements, and any other contracts. 

Building owners also have an obligation to help authorised officials carry out their inspection duties following an event. 

When beginning remediation and repair work on your building following flooding events there are things you need to consider. It’s important you follow guidance from your local council and / or insurance company, especially if your home has been issued with a red or yellow placard by a Rapid Building Assessor. 

There are several resources prepared to help you in this process and to ensure remedial work complies with the Building Code, where applicable. 

Find out about the financial support available here.

Experiencing an emergency can be overwhelming. It’s normal for you and your employees to feel upset and physically drained during and after an emergency event. You can see our advice on looking after yourself and others during times of stress here

Assessing the property for damage

Get in touch with your landlord firstly to check that everyone is safe, and to assess any damage.

Landlords are responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonable condition. This includes paying for any damages to the property caused by a natural disaster. Tenants are not responsible for any damage to the property, or clean up following a natural disaster.

If the property is flooded, the landlord is responsible for drying the property if it has water damage, and paying the tenants for any electricity charges incurred.

Landlords should also follow National Emergency Management Agency and civil defence guidelines to ensure they are meeting obligations around building assessments, health and safety of the rental property, supply of water and repairs.

Tenancy Services has more advice for landlords here

We’re here to help

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances, contact our Advice Service on
0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or fill out the form below and we will get back to you.


Would you like one of our team to give you a call? Let us know and we will get back to you.