Puhiwai Rangi’s last journey
This great creature has had a few too many journeys. It was first transported from Matapaua Bay where it was stranded lifeless, to Wharekaho Beach to undergo cultural flensing. This was shared by three tribes but managed by Doc and Joe Davis of ngati hei. This process also had commercial aspects, procuring the oil and bone and ambergris. It was then exposed in storms associated with Cyclone Hale and finally Cyclone Gabrielle scattered the creature’s remains along Wharekaho Beach. This time it has been buried on the Marae as the beach was always too shallow. DoC and TCDC responded quickly to community health concerns with their clean -up effort which was assisted by many locals, especially the Ngati hei people who were a little distressed at what had happened to this once magnificent whale.
From the Mercury Bay Fire Brigade
Derek Collier, Deputy Fire Chief
“The tides were the highest I have ever seen. It was one of the biggest events in terms of assistance required from the Fire brigade, that we have ever experienced; we had 37 call outs in a 48 hour period. “
Derek reported that a lot of calls were to do with pumping out water from properties.
He spoke about the preparedness for the storm. “There were a lot of resources made available – Rapid Waters Response team, Civil Defence Rapid response, and the Army with two of their special Unimog vehicles. In some ways, all of these resources were not needed as most of it was handled by the Fire Brigade and local community efforts and TCDC. But people commented, to have them reaching the area before the storm when they would not have been able to after, was a great boost to morale.
Derek concludes, “The community and team spirit were very inspiring and this responding together in an emergency really brings the brigade together and builds that strong team. We were overwhelmed with practical support, especially offers of food from people in the community. T see the community beavering away after the cyclone to clear the footpaths and walking areas was pounce again, inspiring. I’m proud to be a sort of this community and to serve it as a member of the Fire Brigade.”
The Fire Brigade is at this time short of members and perhaps other Brigades on the Peninsula are also. Derek hopes that people will respond to this need. “We have just had three young MBAS students who have put their hand up to do training and this is very encouraging.”
Residents and Ratepayers Association
President Deborah Phillips
“...we were in good hands. I came down to the Town Hall to see what I could do. Sue Costello of Parks and Reserves led the Civil Defence. She very ably led her team and all enquirers were directed to the service they needed. Mostly there was sand bagging to do but also the task of reassuring anxious people, especially older ones living alone. One area where we could be better prepared, is in organising the serving or distribution of regular meals to those who are cut off without power for extended periods. Also just organising places like the sporting grounds to offer showers when and if needed, might be something we can put on our check list. We were a community facing a crisis which was not as critical as it could have been. There is a point at which the community must also take up the responsibility to care for itself.
I believe we are able to do this. People showed their willingness and desire to do whatever was needed to help others."
Waikato Regional Council had requested the Boating Club to remove the emergency wall constructed by the community and Cyclone Gabrielle arrived to toss the wall blocks and sandbags about.
These images have been forwarded to The Informer. Erosion, wash up from the ocean, and wash up of shore life and deposited elsewhere has been significant. In terms of devastating damage to persona property and homes Whitianga was spared Hahei and Cooks beach had more severe damage particularly loss of power. Flooding of homes was not extensive.
Caption: outside the Boating Club