National | Earthquake

Wahine Māori and husband join relief efforts following Turkey earthquake in Turkey

On Monday morning, devastating earthquakes struck parts of Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris in their wake. As rescuers continue to search for survivors among the rubble, the death toll has risen to over 8,000 and is expected to rise even further.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake impacted the Kahramanmaraş area in Turkey. The country's capital, Ankara, is located more than 400 kilometres northwest. spoke to a wahine from Waikato-Tainui who landed in Ankara right after the earthquake hit.

Denise McCabe never expected a holiday back to her husband's homeland in Turkey would turn to chaos.

“When I arrived in Ankara all I saw was a blackout. Some places had no electricity in the main centre. But there was just a lot of people everywhere and scattered,” she says.

“What we see on the news is five different cities with different effects and each city has some relief. Some have none. Some of them are outside in the elements. These are families, elderly, kuia, kaumātua outside in the cold because it is snowing here in the winter time and it is cold.”

Zaferay and Denise join relief efforts for earthquake-stricken Turkey.

The McCabes have banded together with family and locals to help affected families.

"My partner Zaferay, he's just like me helping, he's helping where he sees his people in need. So I'm just feeling for his wairua (spirit) and trying to help with the support.  I feel for the people because they're my people at the end of the day. His people, my people."

“We're here helping out with the relief. Whether it's kākahu, pūtea or any sort of benefits for the people.

What I've done is taken the whakaaro (idea) from back home. What we do with our own and putting that into perspective because that's what we do as Māori."

The search for loved ones

Both McCabe and her husband are slowly trying to locate loved ones.

“At this moment I don't have a clue. We are still finding family and friends and ensuring all his whānau and friends are safe, in good spirits and okay.”

Significant damage to building infrastructures was apparent.

“There are a lot of families who live in apartments and these are not just small apartments. These are massive apartment blocks, with probably about 200 people in each.”

“You wouldn't believe the buildings I've seen. I've seen Auckland city and this is nothing in comparison. This is about 10 times the size.”

The couple plan to join relief crews in the morning.

New Zealand is contributing $1.5 million to assist in the humanitarian response to a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced this financial assistance this afternoon and indicated more could be provided if necessary.