Quake-hit Hurunui residents 'forgotten by the Crown'

The Inland Rd between Waiau and Kaikoura was significantly damaged in the November 14 quake.
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

The Inland Rd between Waiau and Kaikoura was significantly damaged in the November 14 quake.

Communities hit hardest by the November 14 earthquake feel "forgotten by the Crown", with local support groups having to resort to philanthropy for funding.

Concerns were raised at a Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) meeting last week about Hurunui residents facing a winter of broken homes and disrupted lives with little support.​

Acting chairman Mark Solomon said quake-hit residents felt "forgotten by the Crown".

Earthquake damage to Leslie Hills Rd heading to Waiau.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Earthquake damage to Leslie Hills Rd heading to Waiau.

"All they ever hear about is about Kaikoura," he said.

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The Kaikoura quake, which was centred closer to Waiau in Hurunui, caused widespread damage to houses, farms and community infrastructure, and forced some families to move away or to live in tents and caravans.

Waiau Cemetery in North Canterbury suffered major damage.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

Waiau Cemetery in North Canterbury suffered major damage.

North Canterbury farmers were also struggling with earthquake damage to land and infrastructure, on top of years of drought-related income loss and stress.

Board members Andy Dickerson​ and Jo Kane said the CDHB urgently needed to provide more support for the district's psycho-social recovery.

"We need to stand alongside these people and, this time, we need to make sure that no one gets left behind," Dickerson said.

Significant quake damage forced Paul Newberry-Johnson out of his house and into a caravan on the street.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Significant quake damage forced Paul Newberry-Johnson out of his house and into a caravan on the street.

Kane said the Hurunui community was at "crisis point".

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"Have we learnt no lessons [from the Christchurch earthquakes]. We stand the risk of isolating the community again."

Hurunui District councillor Julia McLean said some social services providers had to go to philanthropic sources for funding, despite the "urgent need" on the ground.

A Red Cross survey of 200 homes across Hurunui found stress and health issues made up half of the concerns raised by residents after the quake.

About 4900 people were directly affected by the disaster, she said. 

"By not investing in professional services and its workforce, we will be allowing this natural disaster to ruin lives. This is completely unacceptable and the ramifications will be generational."

Hurunui residents wanted a community-led recovery, and existing mental health services needed more funding to meet extra demand.

The CDHB was focused on clinical services like medical centres and hospitals, rather than growing the capacity of existing local services, she said. 

Stuff reported earlier this year that the Government's $3.7 million Kaikoura earthquake relief package was a fraction of the $12.8m requested by the CDHB for psycho-social recovery in Kaikoura, Hurunui and Nelson-Marlborough.

The CDHB and Ministry of Health provided no additional funding for the popular All Right? wellbeing campaign to extend to Hurunui and Kaikoura after November's quake.

CDHB chief executive David Meates said the board had invested more than $1m into supporting North Canterbury since the earthquake, exceeding the funding provided by the Ministry of Health so far.

A North Canterbury focus group was assessing how to best answer the community's needs, including potentially extending the All Right? campaign, he said.

Free access to GPs had been provided since November 14, an offer taken up 4464 times so far, including 3132 visits in Kaikoura and 466 visits in the Hurunui district.

 - Stuff

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