Flood refugees housed in Te Poho o Hakatere

By Tamati Tiananga

Tamati Edwards and his tamariki Jai, Leonard and Ilalee at Hakatere Marae.

It was a daunting experience for Tamati Edwards and partner Lashai Te Haate and their kids as they crossed the Ashburton Bridge while the river continued to rise close to the bridge struts.

"It was very frightening, especially going over the bridge and seeing the pace of the water," he says. 

On Sunday afternoon Tamati Edwards, partner Lashai Te Haate and their three kids,  four-year-old Leonard, three-year-old daughter Ilalee and six-month-old bay son Jai were evacuated from their Hinds home to Hakatere marae.

"We were brought in and shown to our beds. There was a feed on for us and the kids. It's been awesome, I have never been to this marae before". 

Hakatere Marae spokeswomen,  Michelle Ormsby- Brett said marae kaiāwhina have been working around the clock to prepare marae facilities for evacuees.    

"I personally got here around half past eight last night to tag in for some of the people who had been here since 11 am so they could tag out and get rest."

Due to heavy rainfall and flooding, 52 schools and kura and 24 early learning services in Canterbury have closed. Ashburton College Māori head Tiipene Philip has joined the marae working team to support whānau. "The purpose of our marae's facilities is to be open to all members of the community," he says.

Seven whānau groups are being housed at the Hakatere Marae. Many are first-timers to the Ashburton Marae. 

Ormsby- Brett said, "Their wairua seems to be okay at the moment but, if it drags out too long,  we will see other issues."  

More than 20 people stayed at Hakatere Marae last night.

Edwards, who went home to assess the damage to his property this afternoon, is still unsure when he and his whānau will be allowed to return home.