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Marae To Install Emergency Pods

As flooding events become more frequent and the threat of an Alpine Fault rupture looms, 24 marae across Te Waipounamu (South Island) are enhancing their emergency preparedness.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Puni Kōkiri have collaborated to supply 18 Ngāi Tahu Papatipu Rūnanga marae and six maata waka (urban) marae with emergency pods.

One of the first 24 pods being prepared will be placed at Arowhenua marae in Temuka.

Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua Chair Fiona Pimm says she’s thrilled an emergency pod is coming to her marae.

“It gives us peace of mind to know we can help our community in an emergency event. Arowhenua Marae will always open its doors to manaaki whānau in need,” she says.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chief Operating Officer Ben Bateman says emergency preparedness is vital as Te Waipounamu is at risk of experiencing natural disasters.

He says the idea for the pods came about after the devastating floods in Tairāwhiti last year.

“Marae have become local emergency response centres after a number of natural disasters, in some cases feeding a thousand people a day.”

The pods are a way to enhance that emergency response preparedness, Ben Bateman says.

“We want to empower our people to offer support and manaaki to whānau and the community during emergency events.”

Te Waipounamu is at high risk of an Alpine Fault rupture, which is deemed a potential catastrophic level event. Many communities would be isolated, and the ability of responders limited if infrastructure is damaged.

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“This is such important mahi as it highlights the importance of emergency preparedness in our Ngāi Tahu Takiwā,” says Ben Bateman.

The second of the 24 pods was installed at Ngā Hau E Whā marae in Wainoni, Ōtautahi (Christchurch). The 20-foot (6-metre) container pod is packed full of non-perishable food, hygiene products, emergency equipment and supplies.

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka executive advisor Norm Dewes says it’s not a question of if, but when an event will happen.

He says the initiative from Ngāi Tahu and support from Te Puni Kōkiri is much appreciated and ensures essential support and services are available to people affected in an emergency event.

“All Crown agencies, local authorities and businesses should simultaneously be conscious of an event happening and be prepared for when it does. Communication, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration are required for this to happen.”

The contents of each pod are tailored to local risk, needs, and existing emergency infrastructure. Generators, water filters, medical equipment, and satellite phones are some of the items that may be in the pods depending on local need.

The emergency pods will be placed in areas unlikely to be affected by flooding, but accessible to ahi kā (local whānau) for activation if needed.

The Ngāi Tahu Whānau & Emergency Response Team will offer training to ahi kā on how to use all the equipment in the pods.

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