Reinforcements arrive to Kōkiri Marae following massive flooding

By Maiki Sherman

Heavy rain is expected for some parts of the lower North Island following yesterday's massive deluge.

One elderly man died in Wellington while many communities were completely flooded.

One of those affected was Kōkiri Marae who also houses a kōhanga reo, as well as health and education centres.

Reinforcements arrived at Kōkiri Marae in the form of sand bags to help curb further flooding.  It's certainly a necessity here, the verandah of the marae yesterday completely flooded.  

Catherine Messenger-Weepu says, "The water was around this high here and we worked continuously to clear the water so it wouldn't get into the marae."

These are pictures from inside the marae, mattresses and pillows were used to help soak up the water.  The marae says those will have to be thrown out due to the filth. 

Messenger-Weepu says, "You can see it's still wet in here.  Yes it is, it's all still wet right through to underneath the flooring.  That can't be repaired.  It'll rot?  Yes, it will rot."

This is one of the classrooms of the kōhanga.  As you can see this area directly around me is dry, but the rest is completely flooded in this area.

There are 45 children on the roll at this kōhanga reo, they were here when the water started pouring in.

Messenger-Weepu says, "They were all happy wondering what was happening because we couldn't stay here in the kōhanga.  There's a swimming pool in the kōhanga.  Yes, that's exactly what they were thinking.  I think it was good to see the children happy and learning about situations like this and we could tell them it was Ranginui and Tāwhiri sending all the rain."

The staff at the marae say the major problem is the insufficient draining system in the area.  This is the drain nearest the marae, yesterday it was flooded along with the road and flowed straight to the marae.

Catherine Messenger-Weepu explains, "This is the only drain that sends the water out to the sea and it is simply too small."

Despite the flood, it's clear the community's love for their marae and all the work they do here will not subside.