16 Mar 2015

Marae provide refuge from storm

6:52 pm on 16 March 2015

Some residents who have evacuated their homes because of ex-Cyclone Pam have sought refuge at marae along the East Coast of the North Island.

Hinerupe Marae in Te Araroa is one of the marae to host people seeking shelter.

Hinerupe Marae in Te Araroa is one of the marae to host people seeking shelter. Photo: NgatiPorouAuckland.co.nz

Deputy civil defence officer at Tolaga Bay/Uawa, Nori Parata, said marae were important because they had the facility to cater for large groups of people, which included providing bedding.

She said Hauiti Marae in Tolaga Bay had offered to help in her area.

Ms Parata believes each of the 10 or so communities along the coast had offered a marae to help provide accommodation for people, if they needed it.

She said all marae on the coast would open their doors.

Heavy seas generated by ex-Cyclone Pam on the East Coast.

Heavy seas generated by ex-Cyclone Pam on the East Coast. Photo: Ani Pahuru-Huriwai

Civil Defence in Te Araroa told Te Manu Korihi that about 10 people including elderly had sought shelter at Hinerupe Marae.

Chief executive at Radio Ngati Porou in Ruatoria, Erana Keelan-Reedy, said it brought peace of mind to know that so many marae wanted to help.

Ms Keelan-Reedy's station has been hit hard by the bad whether.

She said they were trying their best to stay on air to keep whanaunga up to date with news, after one of the station's seven transmitters went down.

She said they were used to those types of conditions.

Ms Keelan-Reedy said the area could get rain for two or three days, and were used to power cuts.

But she said the conditions had really stretched the staff at the radio station, although she said she was glad they were still on air and were able to update people via Facebook.

Meanwhile, the severe weather also forced the closure of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou offices in Ruatoria and in Gisborne.

The tribe's chief executive, Teepa Wawatai, said the Runanganui made the decision to close its office on the waterfront of Gisborne last night after talking to Civil Defence.

He said there was the potential that tide surges would hit, and would come right up to its parking area.

Mr Wawatai said the worse case scenario would be that there would be problems at the ports, and with logs.

Storm on the move

The Chatham Islands is bracing for the bad weather that is due to hit.

Kopinga Marae on the Chatham Islands will host more than 100 people who have been evacuated.

Kopinga Marae on the Chatham Islands will host more than 100 people who have been evacuated. Photo: Hokotehi Moriori Trust

Hokotehi Moriori Trust general manager Maui Solomon said Kopenga Marae was gearing up to help people who might need to be evacuated from their homes.

He said the community had designated the pa as its civil defence centre.

Mr Solomon said preparations had been underway since this morning, and the marae could easily cater for 100 people.

"So, Susan Thorpe [from the Hokotehi Moriori Trust] and Deborah Goomes [from Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri Trust] were up there this morning getting the marae ready to accommodate evacuees once the storm builds up.

"So, we're expecting up to 100 plus people, the marae can handle that easily so preparations are well underway".

Maui Solomon said all of the community on the eastern side of island had been evacuated and were heading to the marae.