More than 400 schools and kura damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle are now back up and running, either onsite or in alternative premises, Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.
“This remarkable achievement is thanks to the dedicated efforts of communities, educators, parents, whānau, the Police, the armed forces and our public services,” Ms Tinetti said.
Speaking at Puketapu School (pictured) in Napier, the Minister said the Government would repair and rebuild damaged education infrastructure, and praised local education heroes who went to great lengths to restart education services as quickly as possible in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
“The tumuaki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Ngā Taonga Tuhuru Ki Tokomaru evacuated her kura to a local marae. The acting principal of Patoka School navigated a river to get to her school and then organised with a construction company and local Ministry of Education staff to get a generator, and an electrician, flown in by helicopter,” she said.
“The tumuaki of St Joseph’s Māori Girls College school in Napier accommodated young women from Hukarere Girls along with 500 other evacuees. The principal of Puketapu School helped organise for children to cross a river by boat and then to catch a bus to school.”
She said businesses, suppliers and vocational students organised by the Ministry of Social Development had also made a tremendous contribution to getting schools and services up and running again.
“Almost 38,000 meals were delivered to those in need in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle by the suppliers of our regular free and healthy school lunches programme.”
“And, working as one entity, Te Pūkenga was able to use its resources from outside the affected regions to support its Eastern Institute of Technology with incident management, communications to students and staff, payroll, insurance, wellbeing and safety and immigration needs,” the Minister said.
That included ensuring those receiving student loan living support payments would continue to receive them, a decision signed off by Cabinet this week, she said.
“Whānau, educators and communities can be assured that the Government will stand with them, in the coming months and years, to repair and rebuild their education infrastructure here, and in the other regions, affected by flooding and by Gabrielle.”