With classes on hold at EIT | Te Pūkenga in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, third-year nursing student Morann Kokaua (Ngāti Kahungunu) has been getting stuck in the community, helping people recover and rebuild.
Despite the devastation caused by the recent Cyclone Gabrielle, Morann has been heartened by the community spirit and the way people have pulled together to support those who have been affected.
“It’s awesome to see the community and our people coming together to help everyone that’s in need,” the 46-year-old says.
For Morann, the immediate impact of the cyclone was felt on the Tuesday (February 14) when she woke to no power. She quickly made the decision to move to her daughters, who lives in Flaxmere. Morann admits that “it was scary because we had no reception or anything.”
Seeing people who had lost their homes “was really a big eye-opener”. It was this sense of community which led Morann to offer her support.
“When we went past Te Aranga Marae, we saw that they already had families there from the Omahu Trust, so we called in and just asked if they needed a hand.”
On the Wednesday, Morann responded to Waipatu Marae’s call for volunteers.
“My marae just down the road here were calling out for volunteers to come and help sought the food out. So, I went to Waipatu Marae and was helping with organising the food for the boxes for the whānau that had been affected by the flooding in Waiohiki.”
Like many, not a day has gone by where she hasn’t helped out somewhere, be it Waipatu Marae, cleaning and cooking at Omahu Marae, or sorting clothes at the Regional Distributional Hub.
She acknowledges that helping and service has always come naturally to her, particularly as the eldest of 14 children, and the mother of five.
“I’ve always been that helping mother-figure person. It is important for me to be in the community helping our people and just making sure they’re getting the right services and everything that they are entitled to and getting looked after.”
Morann, who spent 24 years in hospitality, has brought a range of skills to support the community through the most difficult week, following the cyclone, and is determined to go where she feels the need is.
“I will go where I feel they would need me the most. I can cook, I can pack, I can relieve. I am pretty versatile. It just feels really good to be helping when we only lost power.”
Morann says that the floods have really motivated her to finish her Bachelor of Nursing and to help the community. She is now looking forward to her next placement later in the year, with the hope of working in the community once she has graduated.