Just as Kiwis began to breathe more easily after the global pandemic, heavy summer rains created severe flooding across Auckland. A fortnight later, the government called a state of emergency when cyclone Gabrielle ravaged the region.

I’m deeply grateful our South Auckland farm located in the Bombay hills came through with minimal damage. Our animals remained safe (although the chicken house blew upside-down!) and our people unharmed. Other locations were less fortunate and my thoughts are with those most severely impacted in the Hawkes Bay.

The kiwi recovery effort is already underway. It began with neighbours helping neighbours to save property, stock and livelihoods. Australian disaster experts have been deployed to assist Fire and Emergency New Zealand with their response. And now kiwi businesses are getting behind the New Zealand Red Cross fundraiser, with donations rising steadily. The pressure has not eased, but its effects are shifting.

The devastation of extreme weather events impacts everyone differently. I was still living in the UK when the Indian ocean tsunami hit over Christmas 2004. I felt the catastrophic effects through Sri Lankan friends, whose families suffered terrible losses. Then Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans in August 2005, crushing buildings I had visited and plundering the livelihood of my work colleagues in Louisiana. Fifteen months after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, we migrated our family to New Zealand.

Experiencing a cyclone first hand was another level, one I’m sure plenty of Aucklanders would have preferred to avoid. Even storms striking further afield have far-reaching effects. Neurological studies have shown around 30% of people live with meteoropathy. They experience physical, mental and emotional effects due to changes in barometric pressure.

What struck me hard was the repercussions on kiwi businesses, already under strain from pandemic upheaval. The additional pressure of extreme weather is set to further shake organisations and their people. In the coming months, business leaders will experience even more troubles:

  • suffering: staff members derailed by personal struggles
  • conflict: team communication issues impacting productivity
  • burnout: high personnel turnover owing to an unrewarding culture

People are digging deep right now. Plumbing the depths can call up hidden reserves, but there are also going to be losses. It’s impossible to save everyone and in some organisations, this extra strain will highlight foundational issues. Just like a chip in your car windscreen, pressure patterns in your business develop over time into bigger and bigger cracks. If you’re noticing the signs, reach out now.

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