National | Cyclone Gabrielle

Willie Apiata gives back to cyclone-impacted East Coast that 'looked after me as a young boy'

Source / File

Willie Apiata has raised more than $200,000 for cyclone-impacted whānau on the East Coast that brought him up, a 1 News report says.

The Victoria Cross recipient's $220,000 fundraising effort has included auctioning off items such as Queen Elizabeth II's funeral programme and artwork featuring his horses.

Apiata, who is Ngāpuhi on his father's side and closely affiliated with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, told 1 News that raising the money was his way of giving back to the community that raised him since he was seven.

"This is for a really good cause and that's what it's about - our people," Apiata said.

"They looked after me as a young boy and my family but they are the iwi. They have built and forged relationships with every single person on the East Coast."

Apiata said Aotearoa must continue to remember the plight of whānau on the coast until they are back on their feet, "find some sort of peace" and their livelihoods are "back to thriving".