31 January 2024
A week-long series of events from 9-16 February 2024 will mark the anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle which devastated the East Coast of the North Island in February 2023.
In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on the Tairāwhiti region, Te Weu Tairāwhiti is organising a week-long series of events aimed at reflecting on the past, understanding the present, and envisioning a resilient future. Titled ‘Ka Mua Ka Muri’, the series of events will run from 9-16 February 2024 in communities around the region. Te Pūnaha Matatini is a co-sponsor of these events.
The main highlights of the week include a two day research symposium, a series of community hui showcasing local research undertaken over the past year, and a creative collaboration and exhibition showcasing regional climate and community initiatives.
Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigators Professor Holly Thorpe, Professor Anna Brown and Associate Professor Mike O’Sullivan will be taking part in the events.
Anna is the head of Toi Āria: Design for Public Good, a research centre at Massey University. Toi Āria are collaborating with Te Weu to host a group of creatives from around Aotearoa to work with communities and projects around the region to have their experiences and perspectives interpreted through visual arts, music and creative writing.
Anna, who has family in Tairāwhiti, says she was personally motivated to do something to support the region after seeing the impacts on her family and friends.
“When the cyclone hit and we were watching from afar we didn’t know how to contribute or help,” says Anna. “This project lets those of us from other areas contribute our creative skills and networks. We’re looking forward to getting alongside some of the amazing communities of Tairāwhiti to tell stories of hope and resilience. This project feels like a tangible way to support this region that still has a long way to go in the recovery journey.”
“We are bringing some of the country’s top creative talent including a jazz singer, a cartoonist, a multimedia designer, social media expert and a number of creative writers and journalists to jump into creative processes with Tairāwhiti’s artists and communities. We don’t know what will be produced but everyone is definitely looking forward to the process and outcomes!”
Holly has been involved in organising the research symposium, and will be presenting the work that she led with Josie McClutchie that explored the health and wellbeing impacts of extreme weather events in Tairāwhiti through interviews with nearly 50 health professionals and residents. “These interviews from across the region are taonga that provide really important insights around what happened, what worked well and what could be done differently in the future,” says Holly.
“It’s really important that the learnings this project generates are used locally, not just by central government. Repeated weather events have had a significant impact on the health and well-being of our communities. We also have some amazing stories of survival and support within neighbourhoods and villages. Health workers and services that were stretched throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have found ways to be innovative and look after the most vulnerable members of our community through this crisis as well.”
Mike O’Sullivan is deputy director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, and worked with Atawhai Tibble to form the Resilient and Sustainable Tairāwhiti (RASTR) group that is working with communities in Tairāwhiti. “RASTR connected with Te Weu Tairāwhiti early on,” says Mike. “We now have a bunch of new relationships and projects underway across the region from Anna Brown’s creative communities initiative as part of Ka Mua Ka Muri, to a distributed energy project, Holly Thorpe’s new project with rangatahi in the region, and work on digital ecosystems that can predict flood impacts within specific catchments.”