Kaikōura earthquake two years on

Two years on, we reflect on the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake that rocked New Zealand and devastated the North Canterbury and Marlborough regions, not only shattering the environment but the lives of many whānau and families.   GeoNet described the 160km long rupture as the earth “unzipping” itself.

“Following the Canterbury earthquakes, Christchurch and Waimakariri local government authorities have actively sought a Māori presence in the recovering landscape however in Kaikōura, a lot of what we witnessed was whānau responding directly to whānau need,” says Helen Leahy, Pouarahi/Chief Executive of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.  

Iwi were quick to provide immediate and invaluable assistance to support the needs of whānau and the wider community. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kurī, Rangitane o Wairau, Ngāti Toa,  Ngāti Rarua and Maata Waaka swung into action with all the resources they could muster, from door knocking checks, working alongside civil defence,  flying in skilled workers and care parcels and collaborating with other organisations.  Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu were able to establish five Whānau Ora Navigators which were put in place immediately covering Wairau through to Hurunui.

 “Many whānau living in rural areas such as Hurunui, Ward and Seddon were isolated and at risk of going unchecked. However, we witnessed an emergency response driven on principles of kotahitanga (unity), aroha ki te tangata (love and support to others), manaakitanga (care of others) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship)”, said Ms Leahy.

In the hours, weeks and months following the quake, the Whānau Ora Navigators;  Ngai Tahu, Ngati Kuri, and the marae played a key role as the centre point of their communities.

“A network of support was quickly established to support whānau who were in shock and in need. Many members of our team made a difference in those first few weeks – whether supporting the helicopter team at Cheviot, the home people at Takahanga Marae, the ‘evacuee whānau at Tuahiwi’ or in the general support.

 “Within days there was a joined-up approach as a Maori team came together to respond in establishing an emergency response at the Marlborough civil emergency centre; and appointing Linda Ngata into a Whānau Ora Connect role.

 “We found whānau in the affected area required water, nappies, fuel and sanitary products. Many were working in the farming and fishing industries and had moved to the region from other parts of New Zealand to work,” said Ms Leahy.

“We worked quickly to make sure that all whānau were accounted for. There were many practical lessons to take away and learn from. What was achieved was due to the power of whanaungatanga which took hold as we worked collectively in our response”.

Whānau Ora Navigators continue to work to provide a mix of practical and emotional support to whānau.

“Importantly, we want whānau to know that we are there for the long haul as they regenerate and restore their lives with remarkable strength,” ends Ms Leahy.

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