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Overwhelming support for Ngāti Awa Volunteer Army

Overwhelming support for Ngāti Awa Volunteer Army

Over 680 people have registered as volunteers for the clean-up effort in Edgecumbe. In collaboration with Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatāne District Council, Te Runanga o Ngati Awa have created Ngāti Awa Volunteer Army, who are well into their first day of clean-up, which started with a Karakia at the Ruaihona Marae Recovery Centre.

Ngāti Awa Volunteer Coordinators Wini Hahipene-Geddes and Pim De Monchy have been overwhelmed by the support coming through from the community. “This is a fantastic result for the recovery effort. We’ve got two shifts working in Zone 3 today to help residents get their places cleaned up and have plenty of work for volunteers tomorrow.”

Volunteers are working on flood-damaged properties, assisting residents and contractors in removing the worst affected belongings and removing silt from public areas. Safety equipment and bins will be provided, and volunteers are being asked to come prepared in appropriate clothing.

“It’ll be a messy job, but one that is made infinitely easier with so many pairs of hands,” says Pim.

Whakatāne District Council Mayor Tony Bonne was on site to welcome volunteers and thank them for their efforts. “This has been a significant event for our region, and today will be hard for many Edgecumbe residents. I’m extremely proud of the number of people who have put their hands up to help our region get back on track; not only those here today, but also the volunteers who have been on the ground since Ex-Cyclone Debbie first hit.”

An estimated 80 properties have been cleaned today, all have had their exteriors cleaned and some have had the interior cleaned with assistance from residents. Around 150 volunteers will head into Edgecumbe tomorrow; 120 into the north side of Edgecumbe (Zone 4) and 30 will continue clean-up in Zone 3.

Anyone who wishes to help with further clean-up is encouraged to register at www.whakatane.govt.nz/project-edgecumbe. Volunteers will be contacted directly to confirm when and where they are required to assist.

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