Warming up flood-struck whānau with kindness

11:02 pm on 12 April 2017

Kokohinau Marae in Te Teko has become a food bank to help the families of Edgecumbe who were forced to evacuate by last week's devastating flooding.

Hunters from around Bay of Plenty have donated their kills and qualified butchers have donated their skills and time to cut the meat up.

Local supermarkets, packhouses and other locals have also donated to the project, which is being called Kaiwaka.

The marae is processing all donations and making parcels to give to flood-struck whānau and those who are looking after them until they can go home.

The marae kitchen was in full flight today. Men lined the stainless steel benches, sharpening their butchers' knives in preparation for fresh meat.

The idea to get hunters involved came from two larger than life personalities: Howard Morrison Jnr and Lotto man Russell Harrison.

Mr Morrison said the two were having an orange juice last Friday evening when the images of the flooding began to appear on social media.

They jumped into action and decided they could do more than just send their aroha; they could organise relief for their cousins in Bay of Plenty using their hunting contacts.

Kokohinau Marae in Te Teko has become a food bank to help families in Edgecumbe, which has been hit by devastating flooding.

The marae's kitchen was in full flight today. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Mr Harrison, who lives in Rotorua, said the whānau in the region were their people too.

"We were both impacted by the vision of what was happening and we wanted to do something about it, these people are from the Bay of Plenty and they're our people too."

Mr Morrison, who has been the face of television programme Hunting Aotearoa, is a keen hunter, and knew he could inspire others to make donations. He estimated they had been given 10 deer, 10 pigs and a number of donations of lamb and beef.

Howard Morrison Jnr, with guitar, and Russell Harrison had the idea to put out the call for hunters to donate food.

Howard Morrison Jnr, with guitar, and Russell Harrison had the idea to put out the call for hunters to donate food. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell arrived with many of the the town's butchers to help, along with skilled locals from Te Teko and surrounding areas.

"We're neighbours, eh," Mr Morrison said. "Te Arawa is just over the hill from the Bay of Plenty."

The two singers had their own troubles making it from Rotorua to Te Teko.

"We had to navigate through a landslip to get here but, when we got here, we could see they've mobilised so many people," Mr Harrison said.

"It's for the people who are housing the families, in one instance I've heard there are 19 adults under one roof - now, that's a lot of pressure on things like power, everyday needs like toilet paper, diapers for kids, and kai," Mr Morrison said.

The two entertainers, who call each other Harry, have been living up to their reputations - providing a good laugh for those donating their time and, of course, a waiata or two.

Kokohinau Marae secretary Wiremu Hunia said all the meat would be inspected by a qualified meat inspector, to make sure it was ready to eat.

"Today we are [processing] meat and dried goods, and tomorrow we will give it to [the] whānau of Edgecumbe."