Māori input for disaster relief planning is key

  • Te Ururoa Flavell
Whanau Ora Maori Development

Kaikōura’s Takahanga Marae is a shining example that Māori are a vital cog during a civil emergency says Minister of Whānau Ora Te Ururoa Flavell.

The call comes after the Minister visited Kaikōura on Saturday, 26 November, to see how whanau were after the 7.8 magnitude quake earlier this month.

Mr Flavell says the marae worked alongside the Civil Defence despite not being a designated centre in their efforts to help more than 800 tourists who were stranded in the small seaside settlement after the quake struck.

“What this visit has shown me is the importance of recognising what Māori contribute when a disaster hits. They open their marae, their homes, their cupboards, their manaaki to everyone and often get no recognition or acknowledgement.

“I visited Takahanga Marae and talked to the whānau there. They are amazing and I want to acknowledge them and the other marae who have stepped up and still have their doors open to those who are left in Kaikōura.

“Sometimes they put their own immediate needs to one side so that they can support the whole community. In the case of Takahanga this manaakitanga extended to a significant number of international visitors and tourists. Koia nei tētahi mihi ki a koutou.

“It is also imperative Māori are involved in the planning for a natural disaster. Our people know what to do in these times of crisis. They just get stuck in and do the work. They know who is in charge and what needs to be done.”

Mr Flavell was also there to see Government agencies, who had people on the ground quickly after the quake to help co-ordinate services for whānau in the disaster affected area.

“I am pleased to have had positive feedback from whānau and other disaster relief agencies in how Te Puni Kōkiri, Ngāi Tahu and Te Pūtahitanga Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency have been able to mobilise immediately to support the people here in Kaikōura.”

Mr Flavell says it was overwhelming to see the devastation which had impacted on the tiny settlement where he once worked as a teacher.

“To see the damaged buildings and how much the sea bed has risen is incredible. The land scape has changed so much, places where I used to go diving is now land. It’s just incredibly frightening to see the force Rūaumoko can have on an area.

“What also has to be remembered is the economic impact this is and will have on the locals. I’ve met with local businesses like Whale Watch Kaikōura and Ngāi Tahu Fisheries and I have taken their concerns on board and will report them back to my colleagues in Parliament.”