Niue will be sending a disaster response team to New Zealand in the coming weeks to help with the recovery post-Cyclone Gabrielle that struck in February. Premier Dalton Tagelagi told BCN News that during his first meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins when he made the offer of a small team from Niue.
The team of five will be led by a local community elder who will be there to provide moral support in solidarity with the kaumatua and elders of these areas devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle.
There is also an offer of taro and coconuts but everything will be firmed up in due course as the team is confirmed and ready to travel.
“I offered up to five personnel to help out and also a Kaumatua (Matua) that can meet and greet the people especially on the smaller communities because we have gone through this before”, said Premier Tagelagi.
He said that having a Matua or Kaumatua to lead the group will show solidarity with the people of these small and isolated communities much like here in Niue.
“So sharing in those experiences and giving them the hope that it’s going to take a while for them to recover from this and also offer them such things as taros and coconuts. That’s the best that we can do to help them out.”
The team is being organised and prepared by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).
According to NDMO they are in regular communication with their counterparts NEMA in NZ to better organise this team and what areas they may be sent to.
At this stage, the Niue team is being readied to be deployed to some of the isolated and smaller communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in February.
“They are already getting themselves ready to deploy whenever New Zealand allows us to. So they are preparing themselves just to stand ready.”
“At the moment, they are securing more areas before everyone can move in. We are looking at about four to five weeks’ time,” said Tagelagi
Premier Tagelagi said that he has also spoken to some of the Niuean groups in Auckland and asked them to mobilise support for these small communities affected because New Zealand has always been the first responder when Niue is affected by cyclones and natural disasters.