• Home
  • News
  • Staff and students glad to be back at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti campus

Staff and students glad to be back at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti campus

April 3, 2023

EIT | Te Pūkenga Foundation Trades Skills Tutor David ‘Mo’ Morice pictured (middle) with members of the Waiapu Civil Defence, and the HMNZS Canterbury in the background, co-ordinated specific re-supply drops for Ruatoria during the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Getting back on to campus for staff and students at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti has provided a welcomed sense of normalcy in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti Campus Manager Waata Shepherd says staff and students were ready to come back by the time they re-opened on February 27.

“We had a whakatau when we reopened, and it was just a real positive experience for all the students and all the staff to just be together. The students were really glad to be able to continue their studies, and likewise with staff.”

Waata says they have encouraged everyone to share their stories, and their particular experiences with Cyclone Gabrielle as a way to offload and understand “they’re not alone”.

“In twelve months, we have had eight weather events and three declarations of a state of local emergency. So, amidst the backdrop of all that, staff and students were really glad to get back on campus and get into work.”

The campus, along with the Rural Studies Unit, suffered minimal damage, with a few leaks and some ceiling panels needing to be replaced.

“It’s amazing,” Waata says.

During the three week standdown period, Waata says staff and students not only took care of their own circumstances but were part of the community effort.

“A lot of our Hospitality staff have been working in the background in our kitchens cooking food for our community. And a lot of our other staff, with some of their students, have been helping out clearing silt, and that’s been appreciated by the communities.

“Certainly, it has been a huge community effort from our staff and from Gisborne folk to help others.”

David ‘Mo’ Morice (Ngāti Porou), Foundation Trades Skills Tutor, based in Ruatoria, was also part of the initial response with Waiapu Civil Defence as a volunteer.

During this time, he coordinated logistical efforts, managed air traffic and coordinates, and  transported kai, supplies, and fuel to communities that had been isolated and needed support.

Mo moved back to his hometown of Ruatoria in November last year, after moving away shortly after Cyclone Bola in 1988. During his time away, he spent more than two decades with the Defence Force, and then worked in private security overseas.

“To come home as a tutor was definitely a blessing, because that’s always something that I wanted to do after I finished my time in the army.”

He says the community has played a big part in who he is today, so it’s only fitting to give back and help in any way he can.

“I certainly didn’t intend to come home to be part of Civil Defence and now a volunteer firefighter , as well, so I’ve pretty much jumped straight into the deep end really quickly instead of nice and quietly, coming in as a tutor and then finding my feet.”

During the initial response, he was able to store essential supplies at the Ruatoria Learning Centre and then use an EIT | Te Pūkenga Ute to distribute it around the community.

While the centre was not damaged during the cyclone, Mo says damage to roads meant some students, although keen to come back to study, were unable to for a few weeks.

In some cases, when teaching resumed, students were travelling into town on a horse.

“It’s absolutely amazing. Most people would just stay home.”

Across all locations in Tairāwhiti, the majority of programmes are being delivered on campus. Those that need co-delivery from the Hawke’s Bay campus in Taradale are either being delivered in-person or online.

Waata says they have adopted a similar strategy as seen during COVID-19.

“A lot of our programmes are delivered with the assistance and support from Taradale, but with Taradale’s situation, we had to review that as well.”