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Hawke’s Bay mana whenua calls for better planning in disaster response plans

Following the findings of the independent review into the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle, a mana whenua collective is calling for the experience and knowledge of Hapū and Marae on the frontline of disaster response to be put at the forefront of emergency management plans.

The review found that the current model of emergency management relies heavily on well-intentioned people, like volunteers, to step in to help and lacks fully trained and operationally confident personnel.

When floods threatened the Ōmāhu community during Cyclone Gabrielle, Hapū, Marae and community members used their knowledge of our community and organised themselves straight away to find vulnerable whānau and evacuate those in need.

“Our community members didn’t hesitate to help and physically carried tamariki and kaumātua through deep flood waters to safety sites south of the Ōmāhu bridge and hilltops along State Highway 50,” says Chairperson of Ngati Hinemanu, Ngai Te Upokoiri me ona Piringa Hapū Authority Trust (Te Piringa Hapū), Meihana Watson.

“We knew Civil Defence and other services were overwhelmed and value the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Joint Committee acknowledgement of this.

“At the same time, CDEM has said that they will undertake a complete overhaul of how we approach emergency management in Hawke’s Bay and it is imperative the expertise of mana whenua, in particularly Hapū and Marae that are on the ground and in the frontline in this area be included in this process.

“Te Piringa Hapū still remains on the frontline, providing support, provision and advice to individuals and whānau that remain displaced after the events. We want to impress on Hawke’s Bay CDEM that the more we share the burden, the lighter the responsibility, and the better we will all be able to respond.

Te Piringa Hapū has written to the Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery, Hon. Mark Mitchell, seeking Ministerial advocacy to ensure officials consider their 10 year recovery plan, and take steps to actualise the response.

The Utaina 10 Year Recovery Plan includes principles for recovery that prioritise devolution of resources to ensure ‘Hapū-led, Crown enabled’ response plans and data informed decision making. Doing so will help meet the immediate recovery needs of whānau and communities, and build a self-sustainable and resilient hapū and community.

“Our plan outlines the management framework needed to achieve our goals including what a Hapū-led and Crown resourced approach looks like, how we can address the immediate needs following a disaster, and also ensure we are better prepared for future events.

“No one wants to see a repeat of the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle and we know our plan can help ensure that doesn’t happen.” Meihana says.

 

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