Millions for Pacific victims of Gita… plus a visit from Princess Fairy Dust, but locals get nothing

Jacinda Ardern has completed her tour of the Pacific, pushing pallets of cash out the back of the RNZ Air Force plane, a great deal of which was for the victims of cyclone Gita.

Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, our own victims of cyclone Gita are getting nothing… not even a visit from the Princess:

Those cleaning up in the wake of ex-cyclone Gita near Nelson are reaching breaking point and want to know where the official support is.

They say the Government’s aid to Tonga is a kick in the teeth, given they are suffering too.

Clean up volunteer Claire Hutt said storm-affected residents near Motueka were exhausted and desperate for support, with “hardly any progress” made with the clean-up, two weeks on from the storm.

“They’re in tears, then I’m in tears…it’s been so draining,” the Motueka community board member said.

“Some houses you don’t even know where the gardens start and end.”

Hutt and Riwaka woman, Melissa Girvin, visited people around Riwaka and Brooklyn again on Wednesday, more than two weeks after the storm which brought down slips and forestry waste, covering properties with silt and mud.

Conditions at one home in Brooklyn, surrounded by sediment and debris, were “shocking”, Girvin said.

“Nothing had been done” 14 days after the storm.

But plenty is being done for people in the Pacific. They’ve even had a visit from the Princess.

Girvin couldn’t reach nearby homes in the Brooklyn Valley. “It’s pretty scary up there … the road itself is pretty hairy, there are telephone wires down, hanging above the water.”

Hutt had arranged a digger for the neighbourhood. The solo mum found it ridiculous that council workers had asked her to arrange help for people in distress.

“They’re relying on a housewife and a single parent, and team of volunteers that we’ve met through Facebook, to coordinate the clean up and provide food.”

Girvin was still delivering food and water, and locals were getting in touch with about their concerns.

“I get asked probably each day about what’s going on and why is no one here helping us?

“The concern for everyone is that we’re going into winter, so we have more rain coming. And the waterways haven’t been been cleared.”

One bridge had silt within a few inches, and locals feared that would cause more damaging debris flows in heavy rain.

Some people also felt government funding for victims of cyclone Gita in the Pacific was “a bit of a kick in the teeth”, Hutt reported.

Where is Jacinda? Oh, that’s right, she’s sunning herself in the Pacific. Say what you like about Nick Smith and John Key, they’d never have gone gallivanting around the Pacific while their own people were in strife.

The council had been no help in advising how to get clean water. “You’re not on the town supply so you’re not our problem,” James said they were told.

If the council had removed silt and gravel from ditches and creeks, the farm wouldn’t have flooded, she maintained.

“If it hadn’t been for Claire, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

Tasman District Council said its contractors were working to clear bridges and waterways as quickly as they could, but it understood residents’ frustration.

“They haven’t been forgotten,” said spokesman Chris Choat.

The council was only responsible for clearing public land and infrastructure, and didn’t have the resources to clear all areas needed across the district.

It was working to assess the scale of the problem, and aimed to start advocating for more support from the Government next week, he said.

The amount of silt across the district posed “a huge challenge,” Tasman District Council mayor Richard Kempthorne said.

He met with the Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi on Thursday.

They discussed “what options may be available” for government assistance, including a mayoral relief fund contribution, the minister said.

“I have asked Richard to…get back to me on what the needs are locally.”

So, just talk and “conversations” for locals, but pallets of cash for foreigners. Well done, Jacinda. You didn’t think that one through.

 

-Fairfax


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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