Sergeant Ben Joll and Constable Shawn Palaone have been working in the Tairāwhiti region over the past week with a specific mission – to provide community reassurance and ‘muck in’.
Heading out in their 4x4 each day the pair have travelled to the smaller communities both within and on the outskirts of the Gisborne region to connect with the locals.
In her usual role, Shawn works as a Community Liaison Officer in Waikato West. Having great community connections with local iwi, she travelled to Tairāwhiti with koha from Ngaruawahia’s Tu Tangata Charitable Trust.
The koha, which included sanitary items, were provided to Te Poho-O-Rawiri Marae in the Gisborne suburb of Kaiti given the region had been completely cut off.
Constable Shawn Palaone pictured (right) with wahine from Ngaruawahia’s Tu Tangata Charitable Trust who kindly donated sanitary items to the flood stricken Tairāwhiti region.
It hasn’t always been a smooth journey to reach the communities, which has really brought home the extent of the damage in the region.
Ben lived and worked in the Tairāwhiti region for years prior to moving to the Waikato so coming back here to support in the region’s time of need was a ‘no brainer’ for him.
“It has been great to have the opportunity to reconnect with some of the locals that I haven’t seen in years, despite the circumstances” he says.
“It’s pretty heart-breaking to see the extent of the damage done to some of the communities around here. The amount of slash in the waterways and strewn across farmlands gives a picture of just how massive the clean-up is going to be”.
Sergeant Joll stands at the end of a railed bridge crossing the Mangaheia river in Tauwhareparae near Tologa Bay.
Shawn says she's grateful to have the opportunity to help other smaller communities outside of the Waikato.
“I am passionate about helping people, so for me it is a real privilege to be over in the Eastern District doing what I can for those that need it”.