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Community Action...Post Cyclone

March and April 2023 saw the Muriwai community spring into action, as it became clear that unless we began to insist we would be waiting a long time for an adequate (or any) disaster response...the Muriwai Stickered Residents Group (MSRG) was born!

As the days and sleepless nights ticked on nothing much seemed to happen. We were still cordoned off, the beach and the regional park was closed, roads remained either blocked and closed, or a mess, silt washed down from the bare slip faces every time it rained. Any stormy night (and there were many) had all of us sleepless and anxious.  

It quickly became clear that we needed to 'self-help' and also to establish relationships and work closely with the various agencies, especially the council, all of whom were overwhelmed by the massive workload that had dropped on them without warning - nobody was prepared and those that might have provided leadership were either absent or fully engaged elsewhere.

In short order 'stickered' residents were connected (via What's App), a roadmap for restoration was formulated, a website was created and a communication strategy was drafted. MSRG and the wider Muriwai community mobilised - identifying the skills needed to do the work ahead of us and creating a team of volunteer experts to coordinate and communicate and generally to represent our battered community. You can get all the detail from the MSRG website.

At the same time, the wider community was in full support and comfort mode - those of us displaced from our homes were so often staggered and overwhelmed by the generosity of so many - individuals, groups like Lions and Rotary, businesses close by and faraway fundraised or donated practical items we had either lost forever or which we needed but weren't allowed to go and get from our homes...the Golf Club, Surf Club and an army of residents provisioned and worked in or hosted our food and clothing hubs, distributed care packages, baked and cooked and were just there for us with their arms open for comfort and a shoulder to cry on when it all got too much.

It was hugely frustrating not to be able to get on with the clean up at our properties - but access was forbidden in areas that were believed to be unsafe. Understandably those 'in charge' were taking no risks with our lives or theirs.

We began to get to grips with the complexities of placards (red, yellow or white) and the Building Act and with the science of moving land and geo and hydro technology. We tried to get information so we could understand what central and local government were planning for the future use of our land...but nobody could give us answers and 'it will take time', 'you have to be patient' was increasingly unsatisfactory refrain as time wore on.

The Lodge site remained covered in debris - some from the slips on the night of the Cyclone, a lot from debris shifted onto the site.

Our first managed access in mid-March (an hour) gave us a brief and horrifying look at and smell of what powerless, stocked fridges and freezers can produce by way of reeking food waste...but we were not allowed to clear or clean. Just an hour to look and take some photos, grab small items that we needed and get gone. The slip faces were scrutinised by geo tech engineers and council personnel for any movement as we scurried around trying to stay focussed on the job that needed to be done and trying not to be overwhelmed by the mess and destruction we were surrounded by. We'd had the safety briefing -if the hooter goes run...



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