National | Cyclone Gabrielle

Te Pāti Māori calls for $100m fund for marae flood-relief

North of Napier, Tangoio marae has been devastated by flooding with a thick layer of silt throughout.  Photo / Stuff

Te Pāti Māori are calling for an immediate focus on rebuilding and cleaning up marae, urupā and papakāinga impacted by environmental disasters, as part of a $100m Māori Taiao Relief Fund it wants set up by government.

It is also pushing for an additional $100m fund for a 'Māori National Service Defence framework', as well as an 'equity-based adaptation' fund for uninsured people.

As Aotearoa faces its second ‘once per century’ weather event in the span of weeks, communities need to be future-proofed for generations to come, Te Pāti Māori said in a statement Saturday.

The Māori Taiao Relief Fund is a long-term initiative, that hapū, iwi and urban Māori can apply to for marae, urupā and papakāinga flood protection and relocation, it said. $100m would be an initial allocation for short and medium-term needs.

But Te Pāti Māori is not stopping there, it also wants the Government to establish an additional $100m fund for a Māori National Service Defence framework. This is to give hapū, iwi and urban Māori organisations the same access, resources and infrastructure as local government in the wake of natural disasters, it said.

“The destructive wake of Cyclone Gabrielle has been absolutely heartbreaking. With 10,000 people displaced in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the impacts are devastating and will be felt for many months to come. My heart aches for our whānau who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and for those who are still missing,” said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

“We are hearing reports from the ground that marae have been completely destroyed in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Many of these marae are without insurance because of the extremely high cost. Without proper intervention and support, climate change poses a direct threat to our whakapapa and way of life.”

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi added that marae continue to be a source of comfort and support for whānau in times of crisis.

“Marae have been safe havens during times of national crisis, providing warm showers, food and shelter for hundreds of people each day. This week has been no different. Marae across the motu have opened their doors and been the first to set up as emergency response centres for their community,“ said Waititi.

Ngarewa-Packer said support is 'needed now'.  “This policy builds on our 2020 climate policy which committed to establishing a fund to support whānau, hapū and iwi with adaptation. We are launching it today because marae and hapū need it now, and we recognise that this cyclone was not a one day event. This is about future-proofing our whakapapa. Climate change is here and we are living through it,” she said.

Te Pāti Māori said it has also pressured the government to set up a fund for uninsured people from all communities to apply to rebuild homes and replace possessions lost due to flooding.

“Government must meet the full costs of uninsured whānau to replace what they have lost and ensure that whānau have roofs over their heads and everything they need. We need leaders who take care of our people in times of crises instead of leaving them to fend for themselves,” said Waititi.