An image taken by photographer Evan Barnes after ex-tropical cyclone Gita smashed through Riwaka earlier this year. Photo: Evan Barnes.

Nelson photographer recognised for storm images


When Evan Barnes went to work after one of the biggest storms in recent memory he had know idea what would await him.

The day after the remnants of Cyclone Gita came to the region was a time of recovery.

Evan works as a linesman and was out that day in Brooklyn, in Tasman, trying to restore power to people in the small community.

But he also works as a photographer so took his gear with him and ended up documenting some of the most powerful images of the aftermath.

“It was just people trying to deal with the devastation,” Evan says. “You could see some were just distraught.”

Evan says the sheer magnitude of the storm was overwhelming. People in Brooklyn had literally faced walls of mud coming at them and surging through their homes.

The Nelson Weekly ran those images when they first emerged. They have also earned Evan a nomination in the prestigious New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year Awards.

Evan Barnes.
Evan Barnes.

“I’m pretty happy with that. It’s the first time I’ve ever gone anywhere in that competition.”

The award brings together the top photographers across the country with some of the most dramatic and stunning images taken this year.

Evan is a finalist for the photo essay of the year and up for people’s choice where the public can go online at to pick their favourites.

He says it was a combination of nature’s strength and the human emotion that stood out to him. As soon as Evan posted the images on Facebook he knew there was something powerful about them.

“There was such a big reaction, so it’s great to get that recognition.”