Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $50 million support package to provide immediate relief for businesses hit by Cyclone Gabrielle, as well as the extension of the national state of emergency, a new cyclone recovery taskforce and related ministerial role.
The full extent of the cyclone damage is becoming clearer as transport, power and telecommunications connections are re-established.
"Ministers will finalise the distribution of this funding in the coming week, but this will include support to businesses to meet immediate costs and further assist with clean-up. We will coordinate the allocation of this funding with local business groups, iwi and local government in the affected regions," Robertson said.
"The government recognises the weather events are having an impact on people and businesses meeting their tax obligations, so we are taking a range of tax relief measures as well."
Tens of millions of dollars have already been put into cyclone recovery and support, including into Mayoral Relief Funds, Civil Defence payments, and a package for NGOs and community support groups, he said.
"I want to be very clear, this is an interim package and more support will follow as we get a better picture of the scale, cost and needs in the wake of this disaster," Hipkins said, "I would note that in responding to previous major disasters a rolling maul approach has had to be taken and this situation is no different."
Robertson said businesses would have different needs, the initial funding was aimed at providing cashflow they could access quickly. He said the possible need for a a long-term wage subsidy scheme would need to be assessed after this initial response.
An additional $250m has been ringfenced to top up the National Land Transport Fund's emergency budget to repair crucial road networks.
The $250m is a pre-commitment against Budget 2023, the $50m is as part of a between-budget contingency in funding the government already has.
Robertson said he expected it would ultimately cost in the billions of dollars.
"In terms of transport, the damage to highways and local roads in these two recent weather events has been massive. About 400km of our state highways are being worked on urgently through Tai Rāwhiti, Hawke's Bay and the central North Island to reopen safely," Hipkins said.
An exemption from the CCCFA requirements has also been extended to Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Tararua - allowing banks and other lenders to quickly provide credit up to $10,000.
"While the full impacts of the cyclone continue to be assessed, it's clear that the damage is significant and on a scale not seen in New Zealand for at least a generation," Hipkins said.
"The required investment to reconnect our communities and future-proof our nation's infrastructure is going to be significant and it will require hard decisions and an all-of-government approach," he said.
"We won't shy away from those hard decisions and are working on a suite of measures to support New Zealanders by building back better, building back safer, and building back smarter."
The minister of immigration will progress his work to ensure skilled workers are able to come from overseas and work in affected regions, and ensure the wellbeing of and ongoing work for Recognised Seasonal Employees.