Response, recovery and disaster preparedness
April 03, 2024 | Stories
Dean Whiting speaks to a large gathering at the symposium

This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.

Niki Partsch | Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay 

Sharing, connecting and building on community experiences are elements of the disaster recovery process and set a foundation for preparedness. 

A year on from Cyclone Gabrielle there has been a lot of activity at national, regional and local levels around emergency management and being prepared. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provide leadership in reducing risk and being ready for responding to and recovery from emergencies. However, several other agencies have much to offer communities to prepare and respond to disasters – including ourselves.

Last year guest speakers including some of our senior staff were invited to present at the Ngāti Kahungunu Taonga and Contemporary Art Archive and Restoration Wānanga and symposium alongside local members of marae and hapū affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.  

The three-day symposium and a one-day workshop on the conservation of taonga Māori and the archiving of taonga manuscripts was part of the Auaka Tumutumu Te Kura i Awarua exhibition, which ran over several weeks. The exhibition highlighted the taonga worked with at Te Kura i Awarua, Te Rangahau Māori Research Centre which is part of the Eastern Institute of Technology in the Hawke’s Bay. 

Ngāti Kahungunu Taonga and Contemporary Art Archive and Restoration Wānanga and Symposium

Among those present were whānau from marae impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. “Te Papa and Pouhere Taonga were our light in the darkness of the flood,” says Natasha Hamara from Omahu Marae, referencing the work done to support the whānau during the aftermath of severe flooding.

Taonga take many forms, from photographs and other fragile items to significant sites, places and buildings. 

Disaster proofing taonga is a wonderful idea but it is the sharing of stories related to taonga and how they have been documented, rescued, or restored that creates and grows interest, appreciation and understanding.  

Giving whānau, iwi and hapū confidence to take up and apply guidance on offer enables them to know what to do before after and during an emergency. Digitising precious photographs and placing them in a high dry space are some of the measures that can be taken. Similarly, seeking out expert advice and knowing who to contact during or after an emergency event. 

The devastation from the cyclone made it clear that there is some urgency to list sites of significance to recognise and capture the stories of the people and places from hapū, thereby ensuring that the traditional knowledge and mātauranga Māori is there for future generations.

Disaster recovery
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
We support local authorities, iwi and hapū, communities and other heritage property owners to assess damage and offer support after natural disasters.
Photo | Punanga Te Wao at Tangoio Marae
Partsch, Niki (author)
Cyclone Gabrielle
Ngāti Kahungunu

Niki Partsch | Kaitohutohu Whanake - Māori Heritage Advisor
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