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New Wairoa Recovery Manager appointed

Te Aroha Cook

Local woman Te Arohanui Cook (TC) has returned home to Wairoa and will take up the position of Wairoa Recovery Manager in the wake of the June flooding event.

Mrs Cook has extensive experience across 30 years of working in local government, Civil Defence and emergency management.

For the past five years, she has worked as Group Manager of Regulatory, Planning and Community Services for the Westland District Council, based in Hokitika.

She has also been a Civil Defence Group Controller for multiple weather events on the West Coast and deployed as a Group Controller to the Hawke's Bay Emergency Co-ordination Centre for the first two weeks of Cyclone Gabrielle. She was also the Local Controller and then Recovery Manager for the 2019 Flood Event in Westland. 

Born and raised in Wairoa, Mrs Cook is the daughter of the late Rutene and Johanne Cooper. Her career began locally, starting with the Wairoa District Council as the Wairoa Museum curator, moving onto an emergency management officer role, and then into the Governance Manager position.

She began her association with the fire service in Wairoa in 1999 and has held a range of positions, including a ministerial appointment on the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) New Zealand Fire Service Commission.

Mrs Cook and her partner Don Scott had already been planning their return to Wairoa when the June flooding hit the town.

“For us, it was time to come home, and I certainly never expected to be in a position where my experience would be needed. While this flooding, on top of the Cyclone Gabrielle flooding, has been devastating for our community, I feel privileged to be back home and to be able to help wherever I can.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the town is fortunate to have someone of Te Aroha’s calibre to take on the Recovery Manager role. “Benita Tahuri was our Recovery Manager directly after Cyclone Gabrielle. Benita did a great job of looking after our people in what was, at that time, a very unknown space for us. When Benita’s fixed-term contract ended, Council’s Chief Financial Officer Gary Borg took on the position as the role was brought in-house to Council as we began to get on top of our plans for Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery. This latest event is catastrophic, and the Recovery Manager role is vital to shape our future. Te Aroha is well known and has local knowledge and experience in this role and many connections. We look forward to all working in partnership to help our town and district recover and rebuild to the best of our ability.”

Wairoa Civil Defence Controller Juanita Savage said Te Aroha’s return home has been very timely. “It is reassuring for our whānau to have a person with the experience and capability that Te Aroha brings.” 

6 July 2024

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