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Flood-hit evacuees and emergency workers shelter at Awanuiārangi

12 April 2017

Flood-affected evacuees and emergency support services are being looked after by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne and Kawerau.

About 65 evacuated Edgecumbe residents and support services workers are being housed at the Whakatāne campus, and nursing students and staff have provided medical and trauma support for hundreds of evacuees at a welfare centre in Kawerau.

Awanuiārangi Chief Executive, Professor Wiremu Doherty, said the Wānanga will continue to do what it can to support the emergency and recovery response, and the people who have had to leave their homes.

On Thursday 5 April, following the breach of a flood wall, the entire township of approximately 2000 residents was evacuated. Professor Doherty visited one of the evacuation centres and advised Civil Defence co-ordinators that the Wānanga could provide emergency accommodation in its purpose-built student and visitor accommodation units.

“We immediately had a family of 12 and a dog that needed housing, then another family of three which quickly grew into 11, and another family shortly after that. We went shopping for them and set them up in our accommodation centre, and we have subsequently been working with Red Cross support services to take in others who need a place to stay.”

Red Cross workers and Māori Wardens are also staying at the Wānanga.

“What we can do, we will do,” Professor Doherty said. “Firstly, we will support the immediate needs of the whānau who are with us. As the emergency response moves into recovery phase we will look to the longterm support that is required for evacuated families to ultimately get back into their homes.

“For now, we are supporting every day as it comes and working through whatever issues there might be.”

Awanuiārangi nursing students and nursing programme director Ngaira Harker have been providing support for evacuees at the Rautahi Marae welfare centre in Kawerau, where hundreds of people have been seen for medical issues and support.