5 September 2019
Manaakitanga shines through amidst tragedy
Yesterday’s bus crash was a tragedy for all involved and the Rotorua community rallied to support those affected.
The Police were the lead agency managing the response to this event and at their request, Rotorua Lakes Council’s emergency management team set up a welfare centre in the Te Runanga Tea House.
This provided a safe space for those uninjured but affected by the bus crash to rest while other arrangements were made for them.
The team arranged hot food, drinks, warm blankets and clothing for those affected, provided transport between the hospital and the welfare centre, and acted as a liaison between the tour company and accommodation providers to ensure those affected by the crash had a plan and somewhere to stay for the next few days. Wifi was set up at the welfare centre so people were able to contact family and friends and keep them updated.
Red Cross also had a team of four available at the welfare centre to provide support to anyone struggling with what they had just experienced.
Those on the bus were Chinese nationals and Council’s emergency management team quickly set about organizing translators.
Council’s Emergency Capability and Readiness Coordinator, Bruce Horne said the response from the community was outstanding.
“Our team reached out to known translators in the community who responded quickly and were more than happy to drop what they were doing to assist. Not only that, but they also reached out to their own networks and sourced a handful more translators that were more than happy to help.
“This ensured translators were available at the St John’s assessment site, the hospital, and at the welfare centre. These services are essential when language becomes a barrier in an already stressful and complex situation.
“We are extremely grateful to those volunteers who provided support yesterday in an extremely difficult situation.”
A handful of the translators were from Oppies Takeaways and also provided hot food to those affected free of charge.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick has expressed her condolences and her thanks for the support provided to the bus crash victims yesterday.
“This is an absolute tragedy for all of those involved and I have passed on the community’s condolences,” she says.
“I’d like to extend a big thank you to all those who were involved in dealing with this incident yesterday. This includes the first responders and others who helped at the scene, all the emergency services involved, our Rotorua Lakes Council civil defence staff who established a welfare centre to support passengers not injured but in need of support, Red Cross and others who made themselves available to join that team, local translators who dropped what they were doing to assist at the welfare centre, hospitals and St Johns, Oppies for generously providing a meal for those brought to the welfare centre, and everyone who contacted me offering accommodation.
“I’m very proud of the way our community came together yesterday to ensure the people involved in this terrible incident had the support and assistance they needed. It’s terribly traumatic and I’m sure having that assistance, and particularly the support of our Chinese community, will make all the difference.”
The Mayor says she has spoken to local Chinese community leaders who are providing support and she is in contact with the Chinese Ambassador today.
“I’ve been briefed by police this morning and am advised that they and Victim Support are now providing welfare assistance, but we will of course provide any further support if needed.”
Some of the team from Oppies Takeaways who volunteered as translators and provided food to those affected.