Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 28, 2011

Anger, grief from relatives at rescue effort

Police are dealing with reactions ranging from grief to anger from relatives of foreigners killed in the Christchurch earthquake.

Wally Haumaha, who is heading the team co-ordinating the response for people from overseas affected by the quake, met with Japanese relatives yesterday.

They were shown before and after pictures of the Christchurch TV building where many Japanese students were studying.

Superintendent Haumaha says the anger some expressed was understandable, as hope of rescue starts to fade.

“My job is to reassure them the rescue operation is continuing. I have just had the Japanese rescue team with me at the briefing and talking to their people, reassuring them that until the last piece of rubble is removed they will do their best to continue with that search,” he says.

Each body receives a blessing from Ngaiu Tahu kaumatua before it leaves the mortuary.


Twenty Maori wardens from around the South Island are now working in the Christchurch earthquake zone, with another 30 North Island wardens set to arrive and help them.

Gloria Hughes, the president of the New Zealand Maori Wardens Association, says the wardens are providing medical and policing support.

The police officer in charge of handling foreign victims of the Christchurch earthquake says relatives of the dead have responded positively to the Maori ceremony used to bless the bodies.

Wally Haumaha says there was a major ceremony at Burnham Military camp morgue yesterday, and there are other ceremonies where necessary.

He says queries about the process have come from many people, including Jewish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese relatives.


Ngai Tahu members spent the weekend going door to door in the worst hit Christchurch suburbs.

Runanga chair Mark Solomon says the scenes they came across were not pleasant.

“There’s water shortage, food shortage, fuel shortage. It’s grim out there but the big move of moving out into the community is getting under way,” he says.

Many people can’t afford to buy basic supplies such as food and petrol because they have not received wages since Tuesday’s quake.


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