Limitoo News

Training, loaded containers will help iwi to mount effective emergency response

Iwi across the top of the South Island are now well equipped to be part of the official emergency management response in the event of a disaster.

Emergency management representatives as well as council, iwi and whānau came together at Hauhunga Marae to mark the opening of the new Ipu Ohotata emergency container network.
Emergency management representatives, council, iwi and whānau came together at Hauhunga Marae to mark the opening of the new Ipu Ohotata emergency container network. Photo: Supplied / Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu

Containers filled with equipment for use in an emergency are now in place on two marae in Marlborough.

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust (a collaboration of the eight manawhenua iwi in the top of the South Island) pouwhakahaere rauemi Dr Lorraine Eade said the containers, called Ipu Ohotata, have been launched after more than a year of training and planning.

One is at Waikawa Marae in Picton and the other at Hauhunga Marae near Blenheim.

Hauhunga, nestled on the banks of the Wairau, near the Wairau Bar, is the marae of Ngāti Rārua hapū Te Arawaere and Paretona.
Hauhunga Marae near Blenheim. Photo: Supplied / Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu

In the last six years, communities across Te Tauihu (the top of the South Island) have experienced earthquakes, wildfires and several severe weather events.

Last July, when the Marlborough district was struck by severe rain and flooding, Eade said Omaka Marae was opened within half an hour of State Highway 1 closing, which had left 60 motorists stranded.

"It was warm, they had kai and accommodation ready for them, so marae play an essential part in an emergency response and that's why we've got the containers and the trained teams to be able to respond to these events and that's what we're trying to cover across to Te Tauihu."

The journey began in 2019 when Te Puni Kōkiri, Civil Defence and Marlborough Emergency Management started planning Emergency Operation Centre training for Māori and iwi in Marlborough.

Marlborough Emergency Management group manager Brian Paton, Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust project manager Kahutane Whaanga, and Allanah Burgess, kaiwhakahaere at Waikawa Marae at the launch of the Ipu Ohotata.
From left: Marlborough Emergency Management group manager Brian Paton, Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust project manager Kahutane Whaanga, and Allanah Burgess, kaiwhakahaere at Waikawa Marae at the launch of the Ipu Ohotata. Photo: Supplied / Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu

Then in 2020, just before the first Covid-19 lockdown, iwi members participating in introductory workshops on the emergency operations centre became the first volunteers for the coronavirus welfare response.

"For all welfare inquiries if whānau identified they were Māori, they were automatically transitioned to us and we'd provide the welfare packages, whether it was firewood or accommodation or kai."

The Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust was established in February 2021 and given the mandate to produce a consistent emergency response across the Te Tauihu rohe (Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman), resulting in the Te Tauihu Emergency Management Strategy.

Eade said the containers were one part of the response - along with ongoing Coordination Incident Management System (CIMS) training.

"What we have found locally as iwi is that we're a bit more ahead of the game in terms of our relationship and our partnership with our emergency management teams on each side of the hill."

The containers have different contents, based on the needs of the community they are placed in, but both contain generators, first aid supplies, hand sanitiser and other general items.

"So whenever there is a natural disaster, we have these containers with an emergency response team attached to them and so if something happens in Waikawa, they've got a team who can react and respond straight away and link in to the local controller for that incident management response team."

The trust applied for National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) funding last year to help produce the eight ipu ohotata, or emergency containers, geographically spread across Te Tauihu.

Rātā Foundation supported the project by contributing 50 percent of the costs.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) chief executive David Gawn said the Ipu Ohotata formally recognised the important role marae and iwi communities play in an emergency response.
NEMA chief executive David Gawn says the Ipu Ohotata recognise the key role marae and iwi communities play in an emergency response. Photo: Supplied / Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu

Waikawa Marae kaiwhakahaere Allanah Burgess said the Ipu Ohotata benefited the wider community and acknowledged the role that whānau and marae, as haukāinga, play in the resilience and value of their hapori during an emergency.

"The training and the opportunity of having this new space gives us the upper hand to control and manage what happens within our hapori and the wider rohe. As mana whenua, we know our community, we understand our whānau … we are the best people for the job.

"Responding to community need is not new to us, but just imagine what we are capable of doing now."

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust plans to install six more emergency response containers across Te Tauihu.

source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/465920/training-loaded-containers-will-help-iwi-to-mount-effective-emergency-response