Marae emergency containers ensure top of the south Māori engagement in disasters

By Michael Cugley

In an effort to support Māori as first responders, four South Island marae have been set up as disaster centres. A container full of emergency supplies has been given to each marae to ensure effective iwi engagement in the event of a disaster.

The main role of a marae is to cater to the needs of their guests but, with many of the hardships faced over recent years, marae have stepped up to be first responders, and  Te Tauihu Charitable Trust manager Dr Lorraine Eade says marae are continuing to cater to the needs of their people no matter what.

“They are first responders in terms of looking after the community. At the last event we had when the cyclone came through, we didn't know what was going to happen. But the ferries were held up. Waikawa Marae was down there providing manaaki at the ferry terminal and had the marae ready to go,” Eade says.

There are now four marae looking after emergency containers, to help iwi and whānau who are struggling. Eade says the goods in the containers are specifically tailored to the needs of those iwi in Te Tauihu.

South island marae stock up on supplies to deal with disasters.

Starting with generators ...

“They've all got generators in case the power goes down. Some have asked for barbecues, some have asked for portable toilets, some have asked for portable showers. It all differs. So, in there is equipment, resources to enable them to get through a declaration event.”

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust was set up because of Covid-19. Its job is to unite the iwi of Te Tauihu and support their needs.  

Eade says the trust established relationships with various organisations and worked alongside others such as the Nelson/Tasman emergency management group, the National Emergency Management Agency and the Rāta Foundation. That meant they were able to make the idea of creating containers to prepare whanau for an event possible.

 “We couldn't have done it on our own. This had to be a partnered approach. Nobody has that level of resource to be able to support what we were wanting to do in our strategy.”

Eade says this initiative has been set up to see marae stand as first responders for their people in times of hardship, whether it be a natural disaster or virus.

“It's a really important kaupapa because we've had five declarations since March 2020. You know, climate change is here so whatever happens, happens. But we need to be prepared for that.”