Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi met with Ara Tahi, the mana whenua forum of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, to discuss the role of marae during a civil defence emergency. 

Marae around the country have been known to open their doors to those in need during natural disasters and the minister has recognised the need for better collaboration. 

"When an emergency happens, iwi groups, through their network of marae and their own iwi communities, respond. 

"So it's about making sure the Civil Defence system structurally has links and has a really strong partnership with those iwi groups to make sure that they can get the support that they need when they're helping us respond to an emergency." 

Kara Puketapu, acting chair of Ara Tahi, says marae in their region are aware of the potential for a natural disaster and most have prepared for the worst. 

"Because of where we are, and we know that we're incredibly vulnerable - earthquakes, tsunamis, liquefaction, all those sorts of things - a lot of our marae are prepared, some of them aren't as well prepared, but I think most of our marae have plans in place." 

Mr Faafoi says iwi have valuable knowledge of natural disasters that occur in their region which are part of their tribal narrative, and that can serve people well in an emergency. 

"Certainly some of the more coastal iwi know some of the signs and the risks that they face because of what has been passed down through generations, so they know the signals when something is going to happen because those stories have been passed down - they know where to go to." 

And Mr Puketapu agrees that Māori can play a vital role in responding to natural disasters and hazards. 

"The Minister, and his team who are going to prepare this legislation, can actually learn a lot from Māori because we know how to do these things. We're prepared in our own culture enables us to be prepared and agile to move." 

Mr Faafoi says the Civil Defence aims to build meaningful relationships with all iwi. 

"What we want long-term is a real partnership between the local Civil Defence groups that help respond locally and the iwi. Some of the situations we've heard about in the past where the likes of Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura don't happen again, because those marae have a special way of looking after people."

LIKE