Tairāwhiti Police and Te Runanganui O Ngāti Porou (TRONP) joined forces to deliver over 200 hot roast meals to kaimahi (workers) and pakeke (elders) in Ruatoria and Tokomaru Bay on Tuesday (21 February).
It was a real team effort with Police and TRONP staff loading the Police Eagle helicopter with meals at Gisborne Airport before heading to Whakarua Park in Ruatoria.
Rural Response Senior Sergeant Danny Kirk and TRONP HR manager Natalia Whangapirita, were two of the team who helped with the mission.
Danny says that when they landed, they were met by local Police staff and District Councillor and Civil Defence volunteer Rawinia Parata who coordinated the distribution of meals in the community, mainly to the elderly.
“We had a quick look through the donation centre at Whakarua Park and it was impressive to see all of the clothing that had been donated and even better to learn that those who needed assistance had been coming in and seeking it,” says Danny.
“After that we were back on the chopper and it was a short hop down to Tokomaru Bay.
“The Eagle crew were impressed to find they had their pick of four marked out helipads which had been mowed by the locals into the sports fields at Tokomaru Bay United Sports Club for all the helicopters that had been flying in and out to provide support.”
Danny and the team were met at Tokomaru Bay by local Police staff, some of the team from Ngāti Porou Hauora, and the local Civil Defence Community Links Team where they shared some food before heading back to Gisborne.
“One of the Eagle crewman was gifted a much sought after ‘Highway 35 Tokomaru Bay’ singlet, which was immediately donned overtop of his flight overalls,” says Danny.
“It was a great opportunity for Natalia and I to check in on our teams and to see that these communities were in good spirits and fighting fit.
“There are still challenges that lie ahead around infrastructure and roading but our people who live and work on the coast know how to hold their own and we are right in behind them.
“A big thanks to the Police Eagle crew for their work in supporting Eastern District’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle.”