Wairoa Mayor Craig Little
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little

Wairoa has been “pummelled” by different weather events, but the council is working to ensure no one falls through the cracks says Wairoa District Council mayor Craig Little.

“Wairoa has been pummelled by different weather events and our planning is focussed on supporting our people during these types of emergency events,” he said.

“Our hearts go out to those people who have been impacted, and we will continue to work and advocate on behalf of our communities.”

Little’s comments to BayBuzz followed last week’s heavy rainfall event which caused significant damage in the Whakaki, Nuhaka and Mahia areas, with 19 properties sustaining damage and receiving Rapid Building Assessment placards.

“When a natural disaster causes damage, Councils have a statutory and community obligation to carry out Rapid Building Assessments under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and Building Act 2004. It is heartbreaking to have added this many new properties to the extensive list we already had from Cyclone Gabrielle.”

At Mahia, a permanent home and a temporary residence were both red stickered, prohibiting entry, and a neighbouring property was yellow stickered, restricted entry.

At Nuhaka, six residences and the Nuhaka School, Kahungunu Marae and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were all yellow stickered and three were white stickered (minimal damage). In Whakaki, two houses were yellow stickered; on Frasertown Road, near the Awatere Stream one home was yellow stickered and a shed was white stickered.

Little said Wairoa District Council was supporting the Nuhaka community in every way it possibly could.

“The school was relocated to the Latter Day Saints Chapel at Nuhaka after flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle. Last week’s heavy rain has now flooded the chapel, causing the school to be again displaced. This is very disruptive for the students and whānau and Council is working with our partners to find a solution,” he said.

“The school has received financial support through the Mayoral Relief Fund, and the council is continuing to advocate on behalf of the school and students.”

He told BayBuzz the Council was on board, working across the areas that it could, to try and support the community.

“Manaakitanga is the foundation of the Wairoa community,” Little said.

“In most cases, and similar to Cyclone Gabrielle, people who have been displaced due to their homes being yellow or red stickered are supported by whānau and, where necessary, other appropriate agencies.”

But was the district prepared for another such heavy rainfall event?

Little said in relation to last week’s heavy rainfall, Wairoa’s Civil Defence response stood up as soon as the need was recognised.

“Two evacuation centres were established, one at Tanenuiarangi Marae in Nuhaka, which took 10 people, and a further evacuation centre in town at the War Memorial Hall, which was not required,” he told BayBuzz.

“Civil Defence staff, including welfare, along with iwi and Māori Warden support, were on the ground attending to people’s needs, and this role was supported by emergency responders. Wairoa also has more than 20 emergency response hubs set up throughout the district to support communities during emergency events.”

He said these were unprecedented times.

The needs of the Nuhaka community, and other impacted communities, would be further discussed at the Wairoa Community Partnership Group hui on November 15th.

“This group includes iwi and Government agency representatives and will enable a wrap-around discussion on how best to support these communities.”

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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