The Red Cross said its disaster relief fund was taking time to trickle into affected communities because the organisation wanted to avoid repeating mistakes it made following the Christchurch earthquake.
New Zealanders had so far donated $22 million to the fund for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and the flooding, but just a fifth of that had been dished out.
Red Cross secretary-general Sarah Stuart-Black said they were taking time to assess the scale of the need and work with councils, government and iwi to make sure they were not doubling up on donations.
After the Christchurch earthquake, Red Cross moved too soon and attracted criticism for duplicating funding and funnelling it to the wrong places, she said.
An example of the test-first approach was a pilot programme replacing essential household items for whānau with stickered homes in the Tai Rāwhiti community of Te Karaka.
But in the Hastings suburb of Pakowhai, Geoff Downer said he just needed cash – urgently.
Downer’s home and two businesses were destroyed by Cyclone Gabrielle. He applied to the Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Fund – which the Red Cross had donated to – for the maximum available of $1000, and got half that.
Rather than in-kind support and donations, Downer wanted every affected family to receive a lump sum to spend how they saw fit.
The Red Cross may still be ironing out the details, but Stuart-Black said the majority of its fund would be spent by August, and the remainder within a year of the cyclone.