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EIT | Te Pūkenga staff come together following devastating flood

March 1, 2023

EIT | Te Pūkenga on-site recovery team lead Glenn Fulcher (yellow high-vis, right), with staff on the Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale.

There is a hive of activity at the EIT | Te Pūkenga Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale with staff coming together to clean up damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

In the wake of the devastating floods caused by the cyclone two weeks ago, 90 per cent of the buildings sustained silt and water damage. A fallen tree also caused damage to one of the lecture theatres.

Glenn Fulcher, who is leading the EIT | Te Pūkenga on-site recovery team, says it is quite surreal.

“It’s like an apocalypse or a kind of war zone really with the mud and debris everywhere. But we have had some beautiful sunny days and everyone’s in high spirits and they’re all getting stuck in.”

Glen says “there’s little pockets around campus and some buildings where things have managed to escape.” The Trades and Technology building, Te Ūranga Waka – School of Māori Studies,  and the student café and amenities building were not damaged.

To undertake the initial clean-up, Glenn has four teams of about ten people, each day being allocated a buildings around the campus.

“Each team is in a building on campus and they’re just removing the silt and water from the buildings and then begin sorting furniture, ripping up carpets and floor linings.

Glenn says they have been inundated with offers of help from students and the wider community.

“There’s been lots of people really wanting to get stuck in and help. We don’t have the infrastructure yet, so we are just keeping our onsite working teams small. But those who are around and able to make it in are doing a fantastic job.”

He is also aware that many staff members have been helping in many ways from supporting their local communities, marae, shelters, and on campus clean up. “Some staff have lost far more than others and are taking time to focus on their whānau.”

The Central Hawke’s Bay, Maraenui and Hastings Learning Centres were left largely unscathed and will remain closed until March 3 at the earliest. However, it is likely the Taradale Campus will not reopen for several weeks after.

Meanwhile, the Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) campuses and facilities are due to re-open last Monday.  

Glenn says they are working hard to get back up and running as quickly as possible and provide alternative solutions where campus-based delivery is likely to be impacted for some time.

“It’s going to take us a little while to get back on campus, but everything’s happening. There’s processes in place to connect with the learners and we’re trying to find sites so we can open up across our networks. All our staff are working hard to get operational again.

Students living in the Student Village across the road from the Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale were evacuated and have since returned.

“We have provided them with additional cooking equipment like BBQs while they waited for the  return of their power.” Power at the village was returned on Thursday afternoon.

For the latest information on the EIT | Te Pūkenga response to Cyclone Gabrielle please visit the EIT | Te Pūkenga website (eit.ac.nz) or email info@eit.ac.nz. Learners will be contacted directly by their programme leaders as soon as plans have been finalised to resume delivery.