Takahanga marae serves last dinner after Kaikoura quake as Red Cross sets up centre

By Sarah Harris

Kaikoura's marae has served its last supper after it stepped up to feed thousands affected by Monday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

It's a bittersweet end as around 100 crew, volunteers and visitors feasted on lasagne, sausages, and Chinese Embassy donated wontons for the last time. While it's been hard there have been many heartwarming moments at Takahanga marae too.

Chef Jason Timms from Ngati Kuri immersed himself in cooking for up to 1200 people a day after the first violent shake.

"In the beginning it was chaos.

"It was weird seeing so many people coming in and saying they had no food."

Celeste Burt, 5, enjoys her final dinner at Takahanga Marae. Photo / Alan Gibson
Celeste Burt, 5, enjoys her final dinner at Takahanga Marae. Photo / Alan Gibson

But he didn't have to do it alone. Timms, who usually cooks for the Adelphi restaurant, called in his workmates who were "there within minutes". Then a man from Ngai Tahu fisheries came and dumped 1000 crayfish on their doorstep as the holding tanks had no power and the 1.5 tonnes of crayfish were all going to go to waste.

As the marae's food started to run out the community brought in what they had and Ngai Tahu flew in three chefs to help out. Timms said they got so much meat from people who couldn't store it because they had no power for their fridge.

"For the first three days we didn't stop cooking.

"We could turn it [donations] around and make something out of nothing."

Timms treasures the moments he saw people come in through the door so hungry, tired and scared before getting cheered up with warm food and hugs.

"I'm going to miss it a bit, it's been great."

The last supper was Christchurch woman Wendy Walker's fourth meal at the marae. She got stuck in Kaikoura with her husband Keith as they were passing through in their campervan.

She was amazed at the marae's generosity and the delicious meals they'd been fed.

Earthquake refugees were amazed at the marae's generosity and the delicious meals they'd been fed. Photo / Alan Gibson
Earthquake refugees were amazed at the marae's generosity and the delicious meals they'd been fed. Photo / Alan Gibson

"I've never experienced something like this before. I'm overawed ... We've been made to feel so welcome."

The marae will now be free to take care of their whanau, around 100 of which are living at the marae.

Civil Defence Controller John Mackie was grateful for the massive contribution and hard work the marae had extended to hundreds of people every day.

"On behalf of everyone working in the response team, I would like to acknowledge and thank Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, the hapū of Ngāti o Kuri and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for their enormous effort and support."

Food packs and public meals are no longer available at the marae. People can get these at the Recovery Assistance Centre that has been set up at Kaikoura Primary School.

Call the Government helpline on 0800 779 997 if you are unable to get to the centre.

- NZ Herald

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