The Government didn't walk away from the people of Christchurch and it won't from the people of Kaikoura.
Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee made the pledge to a public meeting in Kaikoura he "poked his nose" into on Saturday.
Residents heard officials are looking to closing the welfare centre in the coastal town cut off by Monday's 7.8 quake as some semblance of normality returns to the town.
Kaikoura controller John Mackie said there's food in the supermarkets, money in the Eftpos machines and government welfare agency WINZ is in town.
The meeting erupted in applause as he noted the work of Takahanga Marae in Kaikoura, which has served 7500 meals since the quake.
Mr Brownlee said as defence minister he should have been in the "big show" in Auckland for the NZ Navy's 75th anniversary on Saturday.
Instead he visited the USS Sampson, HMCS Vancouver and HMAS Darwin to thank them for diverting to help the residents of Kaikoura.
He told the crew of the first US Navy ship to visit New Zealand in more than 30 years "you have all become part of the history not just of the return of US ships to our waters but also responding to this natural disaster."
The foreign vessels depart on Saturday evening but the work of the New Zealand Defence Force will continue as long as it's needed.
"I don't want you to feel like the Government at any time is going to walk away ... it's not how we acted in Christchurch and it's not what we'll be doing here," Mr Brownlee said.
The meeting heard a total fire ban has been declared because the region doesn't have the capacity to deal with a fire that got out of control.
One army convoy got through on an inland route to Kaikoura on Friday, but it was closed again on Saturday.
"It is not just the aftershocks but also heavy rains, which have loosened unstable hillsides," Civil Defence Emergency Management Director Sarah Stuart-Black said.
The public meeting heard there will be a permit system when the inland road eventually opens to the public but no time was given.
The HMNZS Canterbury departs at 11pm with 160 evacuees on board, taking the total to about 900.
There were a series of public messages to those affected:
About 340 households are still without power.
Residents talked on social media about the difficulty of dealing with rumours about the plight of the township famous for whale watching tours and crayfish.
"I have been overwhelmed by the number of whanau who have offered their aroha to the people of Kaikoura," Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon posted on Facebook.
"As time has progressed we have been able to build a better picture of where best to focus our efforts and how the community of Kaikoura will be best served."