24 Jun 2015

Iwi come to the aid of flood victims

7:35 pm on 24 June 2015

Three iwi groups and a Māori health provider have come to the rescue of whānau who have lost their homes and possessions following the Whanganui floods.

Mud coats Whanganui's Taupo Quay after the weekend's flooding.

Mud coats Whanganui's Taupo Quay after the weekend's flooding. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

An emergency relief fund has been set up to give financial and material assistance to iwi members who've been left reeling in its aftermath.

Ngā Rauru Kītahi, Whanganui and Ngā Wairiki-Ngāti Apa have established the Putea Aroha Emergency Relief Fund after the biggest deluge in Whanganui's recorded history.

The iwi say a large number of their whānau are affected.

Council inspectors assess houses in flood-prone areas in Whanganui,

Council inspectors assess houses in flood-prone areas in Whanganui. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Te Kāhui o Rauru chair Te Pahunga Martin Davis said the initiative was one of several measures being taken by the three iwi, but there was also a call going out to iwi members living outside of the rohe to make donations.

"Rather than wait around we got together and had a quick meeting and decided to put an amount into the fund ourselves as iwi, and put a pānui out to iwi to see if they wanted to contribute as well," Mr Davis said.

"But, fundamentally the iwi themselves have built up the fund as one way of making an immediate impact for those in dire need."

Ngā Wairiki-Ngāti Apa chair Pahia Turia said the relief fund was providing short-term aid with the help of government agencies.

"This relief fund really is an emergency fund just to support whānau in the first seven days post flood," Mr Turia said.

"Some of the other things we are doing is partnering up with Work and Income and health and social service providers locally to look at how they're able to provide things such as emergency housing and looking at what entitlements are available to flood-stricken whānau."

The fund will be administered by Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority, based in Whanganui, who will assess calls for assistance on an individual basis.

Kowhai Park, Whanganui, 22 June

Kowhai Park in Whanganui on 22 June. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Its offices are also being used as a drop-off centre where people can donate money, food and other items.

The authority's chief executive, Nancy Tuaine, said even though the pānui (community notice) was posted on social media less than 24 hours ago, the response had been swift.

"Yeah, we've had a good flow of kai coming through the door as well as clothing," she said.

But Ms Tuaine said it was important that all whānau who were evacuated or who had left their properties registered at the welfare centre.

"The message that came out of the community briefing is that people need to go and register at the welfare centre.

"There are still some families that left their homes of their own accord and made sure that they were safe, but they haven't registered with the centre.

"The Wanganui District Council is still not aware of where everybody is at this present time."

Nancy Tuaine said there were still a lot of areas, particularly Whanganui East, the Whanganui River Valley and Waitōtara that were out of bounds.

She said getting supplies to people in those areas would be the iwi flood relief effort's next priority once the cordon was lifted.

For iwi members wishing to contribute to the fund, the account is with BNZ Whanganui, and is named the Putea Aroha Emergency Relief Fund. The bank account number is: 02-0792-0096513-00

For general enquiries or assistance with making donations, please phone Romaine or Pep at Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority on 0-6-349 0007 or 0-800-220-140.

Pūtiki Marae's wharenui lies below ground level and, during the flood, had water as high as 60cm up its interior pillars.

Pūtiki Marae's wharenui lies below ground level and, during the flood, had water as high as 60cm up its interior pillars. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The small Māori settlement of Pipiriki was stranded after massive slips washed out the road to Raetihi (pictured) and the road that connects it to the city of Whanganui.

A section of the Pipiriki to Raetihi Road has been washed out, trapping residents of the remote river valley in Whanganui. Photo: SUPPLIED / Ruapehu District Council