Minister praises education heroes in cyclone damaged regions

  • All but six schools and kura have reopened for onsite learning
  • All students in the six closed schools or kura are being educated in other schools, online, or in alternative locations
  • Over 4,300 education hardpacks distributed to support students
  • Almost 38,000 community meals provided by suppliers of the Ka Ora Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches programme
  • Student loan living support payments continued through special approval for students in Cyclone-affected areas

All of the over 400 schools and kura damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle are now back up and running, either onsite or in alternative premises, Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.

“This remarkable achievement is thanks to the dedicated efforts of communities, educators, parents, whānau, the Police, the armed forces and our public services,” Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said.  

Speaking at Puketapu School in Napier today, Jan Tinetti said the Government would repair and rebuild damaged education infrastructure, and praised local education heroes, who went to great lengths to restart education services for children and young people as quickly as possible in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

“The tumuaki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Ngā Taonga Tuhuru Ki Tokomaru evacuated her kura to a local marae. The acting principal of Patoka School navigated a river to get to her school and then organised with a construction company and local Ministry of Education staff to get a generator, and an electrician, flown in by helicopter,” Jan Tinetti said.

“The tumuaki of St Joseph’s Māori Girls College school in Napier accommodated young women from Hukarere Girls along with 500 other evacuees. The principal of Puketapu School helped organise for children to cross a river by boat and then to catch a bus to school. 

“Businesses, suppliers and vocational students organised by the Ministry of Social Development have also made a tremendous contribution to getting our schools and services up and running again, and by supporting the delivery of food, power and shelter to those who needed them.

“Almost 38,000 meals were delivered to those in need in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle by the suppliers of our regular free and healthy school lunches programme.

“And, working as one entity, Te Pūkenga was able to use its resources from outside the affected regions to support its Eastern Institute of Technology with incident management, communications to students and staff, payroll, insurance, wellbeing and safety and immigration needs.”

That included ensuring those receiving student loan living support payments would continue to receive them, a decision signed off by Cabinet this week.

“Whānau, educators and communities can be assured that the Government will stand with them, in the coming months and years, to repair and rebuild their education infrastructure here, and in the other regions, affected by flooding and by Gabrielle,” Jan Tinetti said.