Ngāti Kahungunu, in the wake of the first Covid-19 lockdown, has begun putting into operation a post-Covid emergency response team capable of helping in any emergency which may arise - ranging from another Covid event to an earthquake.

Although it was very pleased with its first response to lockdown, the iwi recognised it could do more and resolved to prepare for the next emergency by stocking up with essential supplies and training a team to help Civil Defence, the police, Fire and Emergency NZ, St John Ambulance and the Tararua District Council when the next emergency occurs.

 Rocky Hape-Taite and Kahungunu Board Chairman Hayden Hape with the new container soon to be filled with essential emergency supplies.
Rocky Hape-Taite and Kahungunu Board Chairman Hayden Hape with the new container soon to be filled with essential emergency supplies.

This has the full support of the organisations mentioned.

The first step was to purchase a 12m container capable of holding the essential supplies but also small enough to be lifted to a site where it is needed by helicopter.

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The second step was to begin training a team of volunteers in all the knowledge and skills needed to assist. It enrolled 20 volunteers ranging in age from 18-50-plus in a Co-ordinated Incident Management Systems (CIMS) course which runs at weekends.

The first weekend programme was in advanced first aid and after an intensive period of training all members passed their test.

Last weekend the group participated in a CIMS planning course and were lucky enough to have a visit from NZ First leader Winston Peters, who was highly impressed with the iwi initiative.

Ahead lie more weekend courses involving such topics as search and rescue, first response actions, leadership and traffic management.

The list of volunteers has swelled to nearly 50 and a second course will begin in October.

Hayden Hape, chairman of the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua Board said he is very pleased to work with the different agencies who deal with emergencies as success "is all about involving the community."