Kaikōura evacuees return home

The first lot of Kaikoura evacuees have returned home nearly four weeks since the devastating north Canterbury earthquake that claimed two lives. A convoy carrying 35 whānau from Kāti Kuri and Kai Tahu battled the State Highway 70 Inland Road route this morning, arriving safely at Takahanga Marae just before midday.

A journey that ends where it all began at Takahanga Marae.

"I started crying when I started to see the sea. I'm so glad to be home," says resident Myra Timms.

35 whānau members including children began the six and a half hour long journey home this morning from Christchurch.

"I've been on the West Coast. I was over there for three weeks while I was healing up because I got a bit injured in the earthquake. I got back over here on Wednesday and just been loafing around waiting for the bus to get back up home," says resident Jeremy Rae.

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura Chair Henare Manawatu says, "We evacuated 136. So we had 52 that were supposed to go through today but a lot of them pulled out because they're still too scared"

It wasn't an easy road home. One of the cars broke down and then there was an hour-long wait at the Waiau road block.

State Highway 70 is still riddled with cracks, but most have been sealed and landslides cleared.

"It's scary, umm, to think the earth can do that, you know. An earthquake can do so much damage," says Angela Timms.

Families are now focussing on Christmas day in just two weeks.

"I haven't got a Christmas tree. It sucks. But as long as me and my kids are all together I don't really care what happens Christmas," says Myra Timms.

But the Rūnanga is adamant the kids won't walk away empty-handed this Christmas. A carload of Christmas presents will be put in storage with more to come.