East Coast preparing for future disasters with shipping containers full of emergency supplies

Tairāwhiti, the East Coast, is no stranger to devastating climate disasters.

But an initiative to keep small coastal communities prepared when they inevitably strike again is being rolled out.

Shipping containers stacked full of emergency equipment will be placed at strategic spots around the region so people have the tools to survive.

It might not look like much - just some land on a hill in the countryside - but it's much more than that.

It's a safe space for the East Coast community of Muriwai.

"We just need to be prepared, and this helps us to do that," said Doug Jones, CEO of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.

Ngāi Tāmanuhiri purchased the plot that overlooks the flat sea-level paddocks just outside of Tūranganui a Kiwa/Gisborne.

"It's a 34-hectare parcel of land. It's got natural springs, but mostly it's up outside the tsunami zone," Jones told Newshub.

"That's our biggest concern."

Doug Jones, CEO of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.
Doug Jones, CEO of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri. Photo credit: Newshub.

Because there's a significant risk of earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis here. 

And soon the iwi's evacuation site will be home to a shipping container full of emergency equipment.

The kits are designed to keep people alive in the days following a disaster.

"So it's not shovels and rakes and generators," said Ben Green, Tairāwhiti Civil Defence controller.

"It's the equipment designed to be supporting communities in adverse, significant or catastrophic scenarios," he added.

The heavy-duty tents could become triage centres, while there are also water filtration systems and solar power technology.

Some of the emergency medical supplies in the container.
Some of the emergency medical supplies in the container. Photo credit: Newshub.

"To be able to give communities the tools to be self-sufficient and look after ourselves - fabulous," said Cushla Tangaere-Manual, the new MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

Meanwhile, new emergency management minister Mark Mitchell is impressed by the iwi and Civil Defence initiative.  

"Because you have had to deal with so many of these weather events, Gabrielle, [and] flooding. You've become very, very good at responding and I think it's the gold standard," he said.

It's a win for a region that has faced too many devastating blows this year, but the locals have resilience and now they've got the tools to get through.