18 August 2023

We all have a story, a connection and meaning for what we do and how we show up for the region we love and call home.

It has been 6 months since Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through Hawke’s Bay causing damage, destruction, injury and loss of life. Our East Coast cousins in Tairāwhiti were once again hit hard along with Wairoa and pockets throughout Hawke’s Bay. Flagship events that bring in much-needed economic benefits to the region were cancelled, some people lost their homes and their businesses.


The Hawke’s Bay Back in Business event presented by Westpac and Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce held on 17 August 2023 at the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre was designed to acknowledge our hard times, our losses and our resilience in the face of disaster.

Karla Lee, CEO of the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce acknowledged “our wonderful community who came together to support one another through some very dark times”. Lee also shared her gratitude to every person who worked to lift up those around them, giving space for all stages of grief, misery, and ultimately, hope.

Mary Danielson, owner of The Puketapu Hotel shared her experience of being in the storm’s eye and how rewarding she found supporting the Puketapu community, in particular while the community was cut off from essential services, supplies and roadways. Throughout the following weeks, Mary saw the need for a space for the community to come together. Because their garden bar was still accessible and useable, a ‘blokes night’ and ‘family night’ was established weekly to give people a place to connect. The resilience Mary showed in centralising the Puketapu Hotel as a hub for community was truly inspiring.

Richard Ede, local Banking, Finance and Business Advisor offered tips on analysing risk areas in your business, resilience, business analysis and a formula for getting lucky. Key focuses for delivering success following hardship include personal growth, having a strong mindset, taking advantage of unexpected opportunity, and taking action.

Dave Letele our keynote guest speaker flew in from Auckland, and shared some of the serious challenges he has experienced in his life, and what it took to fight to get his life back on track. In his impactful speech, Dave Letele rallied the community of Hawke's Bay, urging them to harness their adversities as powerful motivation for personal growth and achievement. He emphasized that while struggles touch everyone's lives, the key is to rise above and not remain defeated. Letele inspired local businesses in attendance, urging them to deeply understand their "why", take that crucial first step, maintain unwavering consistency, and shun excuses on the path to success.

Throughout the event, speakers reflected on the challenges we have faced, the triumphs we have achieved and the unbreakable bonds that hold us together. Collectively, we are travelling a path towards a brighter future together, encouraging one other to prepare for the possibility of another major event.


The final speaker for the evening, Carl Davidson from Research First, spoke to lessons learned following the Canterbury Earthquakes. In his compelling address, Carl Davidson emphasized the need for personal evolution, asserting that the strategies that led to current successes may not suffice for future achievements. Drawing wisdom from Abraham Lincoln, he highlighted the incremental nature of progress and urged his audience to celebrate small victories instead of fixating on what hasn’t been done. Reflecting on the lessons from Christchurch, Davidson conveyed the idea that collective healing hinges on ensuring the well-being of every individual, motivating attendees to sustain the spirit of community through their actions.

As participants left inspired, armed with newfound perspectives and a stronger sense of togetherness, the event resonated as a testament to the power of shared experiences and the support of dedicated sponsors like Westpac.