All hands to the pump during Matakana water crisis
A water crisis on Matakana Island has seen how people can pull together in times of need.
It was literally all hands to the water pump at Western Emergency Operations Centre over the weekend, when a request for help was received from Matakana Islanders who were fast running out of household water.
The call came in about lunchtime on Friday when up to a dozen homes on the island were running dry – some with no water to last them through the night.
Welfare and Logistics staff at EOC quickly put a plan in place, called Downers to arrange a water tanker and by 8am the following morning, the first tanker load was on the island topping up the tanks.
Never was there a more welcome sight to those on the island – one kuia was standing on her deck with tears of relief as the tanker rolled up to provide her household with water. They had completely run dry the previous evening.
Western EOC Iwi Liaison coordinator Carlo Ellis says it’s a great example of teamwork and collaboration between the island’s whanau, Te Awanui Hauora, Downers and the Western EOC.
“The whanau have been amazing from day one looking after people in need, so being able to respond quickly when they reach out is perfect in these times.
“They were beyond grateful.”
The Western EOC iwi relations team had previously established contact with the island early in the COVID-19 lockdown period – so it was simply a matter of connecting the right people and getting the job done, says Carlo.
Since the water supplies were delivered, whanau on the mainland have sent messages of gratitude to EOC as it would have meant them breaking their bubbles to go to the island to help.
“It was a huge help,” says Nimmy Ngatai.
“We would usually be pretty self-sufficient and sort it ourselves but with lockdown it makes it harder. Just knowing our needy whanau can stay safe over there means we can do the same here.”
Downer’s Water Reticulation Manager Leslie Cunningham says it’s magic the way the whole operation worked out so well and so fast.
His emergency driver Barry Frost jumped at the chance to help the islanders out. Barry took two tankers to the island on separate barge trips on Saturday morning, taking a total of 20,000 litres to fill the main tank that supplied the waterless homes.
“This operation was as good as it gets – the purchase orders were done swiftly, there were no delays, no questions – just a united effort to get the job done and get those people some water,” says Leslie.