Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand is helping people impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle to get easier access to healthcare by funding a range of primary care initiatives across pharmacies, clinical telehealth and general practices. 


Abbe Anderson, National Director, Commissioning says: “Helping people access primary healthcare and advice without cost is our top priority for those who are in impacted areas, or who have been displaced due to the Cyclone. 


“We are hearing directly from providers, communities and whānau and responding to their needs. We know that this experience has impacted whānau and communities differently and so our local response will also look different depending on your situation and where you are located.”  


Funded initiatives: 


  • To make getting medicines easier, people won’t have to pay for their prescription charge at pharmacies in Northland, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Tararua. In the rest of New Zealand, there is no prescription charge at pharmacies for those who have been displaced and unable to return to Northland, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Tararua. Te Whatu Ora will cover these costs.


  • We have worked with Medsafe to extend the medicines emergency supply provisions of the Medicines Regulations 1984. This means pharmacists can supply up to 14-days of medicines without a prescription for people in the affected areas or displaced from an affected area. Emergency supplies can be made from a pharmacy in Northland, Waitematā, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Lakes, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, MidCentral and Tararua (note applies only to pharmacies in Feilding, Dannevirke and Pahiatua).


  • Te Whatu Ora is working alongside providers to address workforce pressures by getting locum GPs and nursing staff into general practices and rural hospitals that have been impacted. Provision of locum Lead Maternity Carers (LMC) to support LMCs, and pharmacists affected by the floods, along with relief Locums are being sent into the Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay regions. 


  • Te Whatu Ora has expanded access to free phone consultations through Healthline for those affected by the cyclone. People can connect directly with a GP and may also be able to get new prescriptions if required through this service – call Healthline on 0800 611 116. 


  • In the Hawke’s Bay, in response to the needs identified by the local community, Te Whatu Ora is providing funding for free general practice, and medical and urgent care visits from now until 19 March 2023. We will closely monitor the situation and decide if an extension is required.