Tauranga Moana iwi plans ahead for potential natural disasters

By Aroha Mane

Whakaari's eruption means that tsunami and earthquakes could follow. Is the government prepared? Ngai te Rangi is volunteering their marae as Civil Defence Centres, but progress is yet to be made. 

Ngāi Te Rangi stands ready for what may come.

Te Pouherenga o Te Runanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Reon Tuanau says, “We have marae ready to offer support and transform into Civil Defence Stations.”

They are more than prepared following the Rena oil spill. The iwi is ready for any possible disaster.

“When that disaster happened, the Incident Command Centre saw the value in including local iwi in salvation plans. They saw how beneficial it was if we worked together.”

Tuanau has called for mobile emergency booths, such as shipping containers to be deployed on the key marae. Each one would have a generator and rescue equipment.

“Yesterday I spoke to the Civil Defence Manager who advised me that we'll meet in the New Year to discuss our recommendations and hopefully get the resources we need like a container, so our marae can adequately support the community in the event of a disaster.”

The Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare sent the following statement:

“There are currently no specific plans to turn marae into emergency centres.”

However, Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management are working alongside iwi to prepare and plan their emergency responses. Marae Emergency Response Planning forms an integral part of civil defence activities.

“On behalf of Ngāi Te Rangi we offer our condolences to the victims, their families, the dearly departed and those helping in the recovery.”

As the recovery efforts continue in Whakatāne, Iwi mourn with the bereaved.