February 09, 2024
Marae strength critical for cyclone recovery
A public health expert wants the focus of any government inquiry into Cyclone Gabrielle to be on Māori communities, which he says were the most vulnerable and hardest-hit, but also among the most resilient.
Professor Nick Wilson of Otago University is the co-author of a Public Health Communication Centre report calling for more central and local government investment in resilient infrastructure and to support the managed retreat of those living in housing that is particularly vulnerable to flooding, slips, and sea level rise.
He says Māori communities on the East Coast, Hawke’s Bay, and Wairoa suffered terribly in the storm 12 months ago, but lessons could be learned from how they managed to open marae to help everybody forced from their homes.
“Any government inquiry needs to focus on the impact on Māori – and also on the very positive role that marae played in the emergency response.
Professor Wilson says marae need to be supported and strengthened because another weather event is inevitable,” he says.