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Cyclone Gabrielle: Te Pāti Māori call for flood relief funding for marae and Māori National Service Defence framework

Te Pāti Māori are calling on the Government to establish a $100m Māori Taiao Relief Fund, with an immediate focus on rebuilding and cleaning up marae, urupā and papakāinga impacted by environmental disasters. As Aotearoa faces its second ‘once per century’ weather event in the span of weeks, communities need to be futureproofed for generations to come. The Māori Taiao Relief Fund is a long-term initiative, that hapū, iwi and urban Māori can apply to for marae, urupā and papakāinga flood protection and relocation. $100m would be an initial allocation for short and medium-term needs.

The Party is also calling on government to allocate an additional $100m to fund a Māori National Service Defence framework to give hapū, iwi and urban Māori organisations the same access, resources and infrastructure as local government in the wake of natural disasters.

“The destructive wake of Cyclone Gabrielle has been absolutely heart-breaking. With 10,000 people displaced in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the impacts are devastating and will be felt for many months to come. My heart aches for our whānau who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and for those who are still missing,” said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

“We are hearing reports from the ground that marae have been completely destroyed in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Many of these marae are without insurance because of the extremely high cost. Without proper intervention and support, climate change poses a direct threat to our whakapapa and way of life,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

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“Marae have been safe havens during times of national crisis, providing warm showers, food and shelter for hundreds of people each day. This week has been no different. Marae across the motu have opened their doors and been the first to set up as emergency response centres for their community,“ said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi.

“The last few weeks have highlighted huge problems with infrastructure and housing, and it is Māori and poorer communities who have been hit the hardest. We need to start properly resourcing our marae, recognising that they are always leading from the front to fill these gaps for the community and are doing so with very little money,” said Waititi.

“This policy builds on our 2020 climate policy which committed to establishing a fund to support whānau, hapū and iwi with adaptation. We are launching it today because marae and hapū need it now, and we recognise that this cyclone was not a one day event. This is about future-proofing our whakapapa. Climate change is here and we are living through it,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

Te Pāti Māori have also pressured the Government to set up an equity-based adaptation fund for uninsured people from all communities to apply to rebuild homes and replace possessions lost due to flooding.

“Government must meet the full costs of uninsured whānau to replace what they have lost and ensure that whānau have roofs over their heads and everything they need. We need leaders who take care of our people in times of crises instead of leaving them to fend for themselves,” said Waititi.

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