Thursday, 16 March 2023 - 10:01am

Helping the many, not just the few

2 min read

News article photos (3 items)

Constable Lee-Ann Mainwaring checks in with the MSD team at Pukemokimoki Marae.
Lee-Ann and Senior Constable Jo Batterham on one of their regular visits to the marae.
They say they the work marae are doing to support their communities is invaluable. They are always happy to visit, but reluctant

Since the first rains fell, marae, churches and other community organisations across Eastern District have been providing accommodation, supplies and wrap-around support to anyone who needs it.

There are more than 130 marae in Eastern District and when Cyclone Gabrielle hit, they were quick to mobilise.

Being well established in their communities and with the ability to cater for large numbers, marae are well placed and willing to provide support in emergencies.

As well as supporting others, many were also dealing with their own damage and destruction, including repairing buildings, recovering taonga, and reburying köiwi (skeletal remains) unearthed by the floods.  

Wherever possible, Police have been pitching in and lending their support.

Here's a snapshot of what one marae is doing for its local community...

When Civil Defence asked if Pukemokimoki Marae could be used as an evacuation centre, just in case, the response was ‘of course, that’s what we do’.

Sure enough, later that night as Cyclone Gabrielle raged on, Pukemokimoki Marae welcomed boarding students evacuated from Hukarere Girls’ College.

Maureen Mua, CEO of Roopu a Iwi Trust, says since then Pukemokimoki Marae has become a place to go for anyone who needs help.  

“Our doors are open,” says Maureen. “It’s warm, there’s food, it’s dry and we can manaaki you as much as we need to.”

Although the marae itself was evacuated a few days later, they have continued to support and provide for their community, as a collection point for donations and a hub for support services.

Constable Lee-Ann Mainwaring says the work they are doing is making a huge difference in the lives of people affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and to the work of Police.

“Even though many of the people working and volunteering are struggling themselves, there’s so much positivity. It’s just a great place to be," Lee-Ann says.

Maureen is grateful for the support she has received from Police. 

“Police have visited every day. I’ve met a lot of iwi liaison police officers from around the motu. They pop in and we always say to them, ‘stay, have something to eat,’ because that’s part of the marae, the manaakitanga.”

Maureen and her team at Roopu a Iwi Trust are now starting to focus on the next phase.

“We are getting ready to move from response mode to recovery – from helplessness, to ‘where to next?’"

In the video below, Lee-Ann talks to Maureen about the work they have been doing in the aftermatch of Cyclone Gabrielle.