18 Jul 2017

Emergency housing planned for Edgecumbe

3:19 pm on 18 July 2017

An emergency housing development is being built at Kokohinau Marae in the Bay of Plenty to house families displaced by the Edgecumbe floods.

Kokohinau Marae in Te Teko

Kokohinau Marae in Te Teko Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

The government is contributing $2.6 million towards the construction of five two-bedroom homes.

One local woman, Lolo Hale, had 22 family members staying at her place during the April floods.

She said many of her whānau had to leave the area in order to survive.

"Some of them are living as far as Opotiki or Rotorua.

"We had some families who were living just down the street - they've had to pack their families up and go back to Auckland because they just can't survive."

She said the new development would help some of the families who want to go back to Edgecumbe.

Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment is working closely with the Pahipoto Māori Committee who have responded to immediate whānau needs affected by the floods.

Hemana Eruera, chairman of the committee, said the temporary homes were an immediate response to the devastation they saw during the floods.

"Our hapū, in their sadness and sympathy for all of the people in Edgecumbe and in the surrounding the area that were affected by the flood, thought we'd make an offer to capitalise on the land that is on our marae to put on emergency homes."

He said they had enough land to expand the development to help even more whānau.

"We've got enough land here to take up another 20 to 30 houses but we'll start with the five, see how the ministry sees it and then we'll move into further additions if the need arises."

Whakatane District Council recovery manager Julie Gardyn said there was still much to be done in Edgecumbe to help aid families in need.

The council will fast-track consent for the new buildings so that families can get in sooner.

But Ms Gardyn said the new development would only scratch the surface of what needed to be done to help every family who needs emergency housing.

"We have a long way to go and have around 270 homes in Edgecumbe where people are unable to return at this stage.

"About 250 of those are going through a process where they are drawing out of their homes - a number are living in rental accommodation or other temporary accommodation options."

Mr Eruera said he was not sure when the temporary housing would be ready for families to move into, but hoped it would be soon.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has temporary housing for families at the Whakatane camp grounds and in portacoms in Edgecumbe.

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