April 11, 2023

A community response to flood relief in West Auckland

Community strength and resilience are being highlighted after the recent extreme weather events devastated communities across Te Ika a Maui (The North Island). Like many of the afflicted hāpori (communities), the collective mahi of community champions and organisations has been critical in the recovery efforts in West Auckland.

To aid in the community response, West Auckland Together (WAT) secured funding from Foundation North and JR McKenzie Trust to support community groups at the forefront of West Auckland relief efforts.

MPHS Community Hub, Waitematā Community Law Centre (WaiLaw), Hoani Waititi Marae, and local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki, all received relief funding, WAT Community Coordinator, Karyn Hill, explains.

 “We reached out to our community partners to try and meet the immediate needs of the whānau that were affected.”

MPHS community hub became a Civil Defence Evacuation Centre after St Leonards Primary School returned to regular business. The hub temporarily housed whānau and supported those requiring advice and aid from agencies.

The initial clean-up efforts also uncovered a need for legal support around renter’s rights and insurance. Waitematā Community Law Centre, a local service in Henderson which provides free legal advice and information, came on board to support those whānau, setting up a mobile service unit to reach families without power or internet access and whose devices were damaged in the floods.

Hoani Waititi Marae’s funding went towards supplying essential personal hygiene products and flooding remediation work for the damaged kaumātua flats. Te Kawerau a Maki received funding to support the return to education packs, resources, kai, clothing, and household items identified as a priority for their whānau members.

Collaborating with community partners was essential at this time and meant that the funds could go directly to groups helping people in immediate need. Hill continues.

“The ability to respond quickly and with manaakitanga was really important. It had to be centred around the whānau. ‘he aha te mea nui o te ao? Maku e kii atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world? I will tell you. It is people, it is people, it is people’”.