Napier flooding: Marae open doors to affected residents

5:36 pm on 11 November 2020

Marae in Napier are opening their doors for anyone affected by the floods.

Barker Street, Napier, near Marewa school. on Wednesday.

Streets around Marewa still appear to be flooded today after heavy downpours in the region this week. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Ngāti Kahungunu has geared into action since the heavy downpour began earlier this week, launching their emergency response teams which were set up during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said volunteers had been helping whānau on the ground clean-up damaged properties.

"The marae just geared up automatically and said, 'we're ready, we can take a hundred'. Marae have already set up beds and cooks have been made available," he said.

"The rest of the community has kicked in too. We've had some of the other ethnic communities kick in and, because we supported them during Covid, they've been ready to support us back. So it's been quite a merge of communities in support of each other."

There had been no uptake of marae-stays yet, with many people concerned about leaving their homes, he said.

"A lot of people are reluctant to leave their houses because they don't want to go into hotels, motels and motor camps, but they might be a bit more enthusiastic about going to marae where there's a lot more freedom," he said.

"They can take five, six, 10 family members without feeling like they're imposing on anybody, and they have their own mana still intact. We're also talking about some low-decile communities, and a lot of them are afraid to leave their houses and goods because of security reasons."

He urged them to do so for safety reasons.

"Although there's a bit of euphoria about water and rivers running down the streets and people being out in kayaks and setting white-bait nets up, having a bit of fun, it's also a health risk because the waste water is now mixed into the stormwater," he said.

"There are quite severe threats to whānau and to communities if we keep this novelty thing going on and we need to look after the people."

Tomoana said he was pleased to see different services and groups work together today to support people in need.

"There's quite a good collaboration on at the moment. There was a vacuum of communication at the start where everybody forgot the lessons learnt over Covid that it takes everybody to work in a collaborated fashion, but that's been re-balanced this morning, because a lot of effort was going into some communities and very little was going into others," he said.

"The re-balancing is people first and property second and not the other way around."

Minister for Emergency Services Kiri Allan will be meeting with iwi representatives today to discuss further recovery efforts.

Labour MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri has also been in the community with gumboots on helping whānau on the ground.

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