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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 28, 2011

Emergency response plans formulated

February 25

The Minister of Maori affairs Pita Sharples is meeting with iwi representatives in Auckland this morning and in Wellington this evening to update them on the Christchurch earthquake.

Dr Sharples co-ordinated a hui in Christchurch yesterday which is setting up a command post to co-ordinate the moari response when a suitable site can be found.
A spokesperson for the hui Derek Fox says Dr Sharples will be telling the iwi leaders what they can do to help at today's meetings.

Mr Fox says offers of help from iwi have literally been flooding in with everything from help with accommodation for those who want to get out of Christchurch to doctors and medical supplies as well as all the essentials such as food and bedding etc.

Te Puni Kokiri says getting people into housing, jobs and schools will be priorities in the aftermath of this week’s Christchurch earthquake.

It’s working with iwi and urban Maori groups in the city to develop a concerted Maori response.

Spokesperson Jeff Short says under the government’s national emergency plan, the Maori ministry is tasked with welfare support.

“One of the big roles we are playing is to support the tremendous need for accommodation not just in Christchurch but as evacuees move out across the country, and I must acknowledge the efforts being made by marae right across the South Island,” Mr Short says

Te Puni Kokiri is also working to ensure people get appropriate trauma counselling if they need it.


One of the areas where the Maori response is being particularly welcomed is in handling the funeral arrangements for people from a wide variety of cultures.

The police general manager of maori pacific ethnic services Wally Haumaha who was at a hui in Christchurch yesterday which agreed to set up a command post to co-ordinate offers of help from Maori flooding into the city says organising funeral arrangements for those killed needs to be managed with sensitivity.

Superintendent Haumaha says a team of liaison officers from a range of ethnic backgrounds has been set up including officers who can speak Maori, Pacific Island and Asian languages.


Manurewa Marae in South Auckland is just one of many marae right around the country which are offering accommodation to people affected by the earthquake.

A toll-free number has been set up for Cantabrians affected by the earthquake wanting accommodation in Auckland.

Tunuiarangi McLean says the marae are more than happy to offer a place to stay.

The phone number to find accommodation or to offer accommodation from Auckland is 0800 AUCKLAND.


Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says the response and offers of help from Maori around the country has been truly magnificent.

He says to have iwi leaders such as Tukuoirangi Morgan from Tainui and Roger Pikia from te Arawa turn up in person at yesterday's hui with Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples to co-ordinate the maori response to the disaster was heart wrenching.

But he says the help needs to be co-ordinated through the Maori command centre which Te Puni Kokiri is setting up.

Mr Solomon says it is hard for people outside the area to appreciate just how difficult things are but with large areas of the city still without power even communicating what is needed is virtually impossible.

He says nevertheless the runanga has been able to make contact with more than 800 of the iwi's elders to ensure they are OK and see what help is needed.


Maori journalist Derek Fox who is in Christchurch with Ministry of Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples co-ordinating the Maori response to the quake says while the media have concentrated on the destruction in the CBD the real disaster is still going on out in the suburbs.

Mr Fox says at a hui yesterday at Rehau marae Dr Sharples heard that many felt the emphasis of the news coverage was missing what is really going on.

Mr Fox says people in the suburbs are living without power, without food, without water, without any communication and they are very frightened.

He says the Maori command centre which will be co-ordinating help from Maori around the country is very mindful of directing the help where it is most needed.


The programme director of Christchurch's iwi radio station Taku FM Carlin Goodwilly says street after street in the east of the city are still flooded with people living in horrendous conditions.

He says the real stories are those of tamariki like his own are traumatised and their parents have no answers.

Mr Goodwilly says many of those in areas such as his are in a daze struggling in a world where they have now been without power or electricity now for nearly three days and they have absolutely no idea when help may come or what to do.

He says for many even thinking about getting out of the place requires more energy than they can muster.


Te Ohu Kaimoana is giving $100,000 to South Island iwi Ngai Tahu to help with Christchurch relief efforts.

The Maori fisheries trust held its annual hui a tau in Wellington today, and reported a strong balance sheet despite transferring more than $63 million in settlement assets to iwi and associated trusts during the year.

Chairperson Ngahiwi Tomoana says the devastation in Christchurch is at the top of everyone’s minds, so the trust has dipped into its investment fund.

“If more is required we will consider it at the time but as of today there is $100,000 transfered to Ngai Tahu to support their priorities and we will be in contract to see what the issues are of the day,” Mr Tomoana says.

The earthquake also means the annual Maori fisheries conference which was due to be held in Christchurch next month has been moved to Nelson in May.


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