It’s not every day a police meal room is turned into a bunk room for Army personnel but in a State of Emergency, it’s a team effort.
On 15 February after Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through Hawke’s Bay, the New Zealand Defence Force moved into the region, setting up its Taskforce Headquarters in Hastings Police Station.
The team is responsible for coordinating the Army, Air Force and Navy assets responding to the cyclone on the East Coast.
With accommodation at a premium, a decision was made between Police and the Defence Force to house the 13 staff working in the headquarters in the Police Station’s meal room.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Nochete from Linton Military Camp arrived in Hastings on 15 February and says the Hastings Station is the perfect location to be able to connect with the wider response teams.
“We are 500 metres from the Civil Defence Emergency Coordination Centre, are able to attend the regular Police Incident Management Team meetings and plug in to the Police network.”
He says for the team, living in the station meal room is luxury.
“It’s inside and not under canvas or in the elements and the staff have been so friendly and welcoming to us.”
Lieutenant Colonel Nochete says throughout the Cyclone Gabrielle response a simple whakataukī has guided them.
“He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.
“We are helping Police to access isolated areas by taking them with us on patrol, while Police are providing us information on where we should be delivering aid.”
Eastern District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park says it has been a pleasure to host the Defence Force staff.
“We have all worked together so well and to have them so close is invaluable,” she says.