“Thank you, Wairoa,” was the message from Prime Minister Chris Hipkins who visited town today.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the traumatic and difficult time the district had been through, adding it was his third attempt to get to Wairoa, so he could say thank you in person.
Mr Hipkins travelled from Gisborne with local MPs Meka Whaitiri, Kiritapu Allan and Stuart Nash. The group was welcomed at Taihoa Marae and also visited Hinemihi Marae – seeing first-hand the flood damage down Ruataniwha Road.
Mr Hipkins said while the cyclone saw Wairoa isolated with no communications, power, road or rail, it has also seen communities come together, particularly marae which he described as the lifeline for everyone.
Minister Stuart Nash identified Wairoa’s connectivity as a priority. He described Wairoa Mayor Craig Little as a staunch supporter of the district and encouraged the local community to look after each other.
Minister Kiritapu Allan said she drew a deep gasp when she saw the damaged homes in Wairoa - knowing that behind each door is a whānau, a whakapapa, kaumātua.
Minister Whaitiri also urged the community to look after each other and take a break, while also identifying the younger generation and pointing out that is why everyone does the mahi we do.
In discussing recovery, Wairoa pushed for a localised approach and funding, rather than a regional response, so Wairoa can rebuild in its unique ‘By Wairoa, for Wairoa way’.
16 March 2023
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