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Māori communities prepare for second deluge in upper North Island

Tue, Jan 31
Te Whānau o Waipareira prepare kai packages for those in need.

Māori services and schools across Tāmaki Makaurau and Northland are gearing up for a long night, as they anticipate the arrival of another wet front that's set to batter the two regions from tonight.

Another region declares a State of Emergency

Earlier this afternoon, Northland Regional Council, which consists of the Kaipara, Whangārei, and Far North districts, had put in place a state of emergency for the next seven days.

Following the announcement, Far North mayor Moko Tepania said the declaration was needed in order to give appropriate services some authority to help lead the response.

"Ko te hoatu i te mana ake ki ngā whakaratonga kei te takiwā, pēnei i a pirihimana Aotearoa, pēnei i ngā whakaratonga iwi, kaipatu ahi, ērā momo (We have to give authority to services in our area such as the police, iwi providers as well as our firemen to take charge)."

Mixed reactions from Māori teachers on school closures

A small wharekura based in Manurewa was set to welcome a fresh batch of Year 9 students in a pōwhiri set for tomorrow morning. However, following yesterday’s announcement by the Ministry of Education to shut schools across Auckland until February 7, the event has since been called off.

Te Wharekura o Manurewa principal Maahia Nathan says it’s the right call to be made, considering the uncertainties of the weather.

"I roto i ngā tohu huarere, kei te pērā anō [te ua marangai] ā te pō nei, ā ngā rā kei mua i a tātou... karekau aku raruraru ki tēnei whakataunga (We’ve been watching the weather forecasts and it’s set to be the same [heavy rain] throughout tonight and into the morning... so I have no problem with this decision)."

However, the decision to close all schools has left some teachers and principals "blindsided".

Former principal Machelle Dick is one of those weary at the decision made by the Ministry of Education, saying that the choice should lie with the schools themselves.

"Ko ētahi [kura] kei te noho-ā-hapori, kaore rātou katoa kei te haere mā runga huarahi (Most of these [schools] stay within their own communities, most of them don’t need to use the roads)."

Urban Māori community providers ready to help

Since last Friday’s "unprecedented" flooding event, West Auckland-based Māori service provider Te Whānau o Waipareira have been out in the community helping whānau with essential items such as food, water and clothes.

Te Whānau o Waipareira foodbank organiser Moenga Grace says she’s had to help people who have "completely lost everything".

"They’ve only walked away with the clothes that they’ve had on their back... it’s just been absolutely, you know, so scary," she said.

As the new front brings fresh concers for flooding in the area, Grace says the Waipareira Trust is ready to help.

"When our people need us, Whānau o Waipareira are there to support... not only Māori, it’s pretty much everybody."


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