Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pacific communities rally to help flood affected families & batten down for more rain

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

As the city of Auckland braces for another couple of days of torrential downpours, Pacific community leaders have been busy helping families across the motu in the wake of last Friday’s deluge.

Outspoken Auckland City councillor Josephine Bartley was at Wesley Primary School near Mt Roskill where many have been taking refuge since Friday. 

“A lot of the people coming through that I’ve seen, just from the short time I’ve been here are Pasifika,” she says.

“So I’ve said to them (the volunteers) hey, if you can, get some pisupo cans in your food parcels?” she laughed.

All humour aside, Bartley says, families are still very much traumatised by the events of the past few days and shelter volunteers like the members of ARK – Act of Roskill Kindness – need to be supported acknowledging that, in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s flood, people just wanted to know there was help. 

“You know people are still traumatised; people felt that they had to fend for themselves, you know because emergency services were so stretched,” Bartley says.

“It’s very, very sad and a lot of people never had to ask for help before and they came through and they were very shy to even ask for food parcels and welfare support.”

Bartley says, as families recover but brace for the next downpour, many have been anxious about the cost of the cleanup especially in the Māngere area.

“I went out there and I saw a lot of debris, I saw a lot of household items; a lot of people, their belongings all out on the street. They don’t have the money to pay for skip bins, they don’t have a car to transport to a tip and so that’s the big issue that we’re working on now is trying to get that clean up happening for our communities”

Chair of the Mangere-Otahuhu local Board Tauanu’u Nick Bakulich says a pop-up community and information hub in Mangere Bridge has been busy helping distressed families.

Families can get help from government agencies like Kainga Ora, community support teams and medical professionals at the hub.

He says. such was the speed and intensity of the flooding last week, families left homes with literally just the shirt on their back. They left behind essentials like medicines and mobile phones.

“You know the place is flooded and gone with it is their daily medication so people who need inhalers, people who need their heart tablets daily, have gone. So part of the assistance for the centre is for the medical team to access records and start prepping meds that they need replaced,” Bakulich says.

“Gone with the water are things like mobile phones, devices. People are simply disconnected from the outer world, you know they can’t access their case managers, they can’t access their landlords or other important information.”

Doing his bit to help in South Auckland is head of the BBM (Buttabean Motivation) food distribution centre in Wiri, Dave Letele.

Speaking to TP+ after just visiting the Emergency Centre in West Auckland, Letele says he was impressed with the efforts of community providers to help families get through these dark times saying he had no choice but to mobilise his own resources to help out. 

“You know you just get it done, because that’s what we do,” Letele says.

“The community know, we stand up and we deliver and that’s what needs to happen.

“You know you’ve got families now, sleeping in cars, kids sleeping in cars not because they’re homeless, but because their houses have been ransacked by this flood and they’ve got nowhere else to go. Lots of people don’t have the benefit of being able to go to a family member or friends.”

Equally, Letele is scathing of Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown and the Auckland City Council’s efforts during the emergency, letting the mayor know his thoughts during a visit to the Mangere hub on Sunday. 

“He came to the setup in Mangere, the War Memorial Hall, and our people, brother, are very respectful and humble people and we welcomed him but I wasn’t about to let that opportunity slide, I had to let him know what’s going on for us on the ground,” he says. 

“I believe he’s out of his depth here and this was his opportunity to stand up and deliver and it really would have cemented his.. mayorship. This really would have cemented his legacy as well.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Bartley is urging those in need of help, not to be shy. 

“You’re not alone. Everybody is here to help,” she says.

“Take the help, take what you need but also to acknowledge everyone that’s getting in and helping each other. Where we’re seeing the real leadership is among our own communities. 

“Neighbours are just helping each other with everything and sometimes it’s the first time people have met their neighbours. But yeah, just keep looking after each other.”

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