Kaikoura marae clears calendar, focuses on quake relief

Kaikoura residents wait for evacuation at Takahanga Marae (Alex Baird/Newshub.)
Kaikoura residents wait for evacuation at Takahanga Marae (Alex Baird/Newshub.)

A marae that's found itself at the centre of the quake relief effort has cleared its calendar for the rest of the year to focus on helping stranded locals survive.

Takahanga Marae in Kaikoura has been chosen by the Red Cross to be the base for its distribution efforts.

"It's just full-on," Kaikoura Rūnanga chair Henare Manawatu told Newshub.

"Our executive [is] going to meet today and cancel everything for the rest of the year. We have to. Some of our whanau have been displaced, their houses are destroyed. Some of them have been red-zoned, red-stickered already so they've got nowhere to live."

The marae's served up thousands of meals since Monday's magnitude 7.8 quake, looking after hundreds of people - including emergency services personnel.

Local iwi Ngai Tahu's using its own helicopters to get people out, and food in - including 1.5 tonnes of crayfish.

Mr Manawatu says anyone in the region who needs help just needs to get in touch.

"Come up, let us know where you are. If you can't, ring us, get hold of Civil Defence, they'll put you in contact with us. Let us know what you need and we will get them out to you. If you can't come out here, we'll come to you."

He's not worried their volunteers will soon tire of the relief effort.

"A lot of our whanau won't move. They won't go. They're here on the marae, they're working on the marae and they want to stay on the marae."

Roads in and out of Kaikoura are still treacherous - State Highway 1 is completely blocked off by landslides, with Transport Minister Simon Bridges on Thursday morning saying there's little question it'll need to follow a different route in the future.

The inland route, State Highway 70, is littered with boulders and cracks. Presently it's only being used by emergency personnel, with plans to open it up to the public hopefully by the weekend.