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Waimakariri has opened its heart to our neighbours in Hurunui and Kaikoura.

As the first images began to come out of those devastated regions, they touched a chord in many of our residents who felt they wanted to pay back the support we received during our earthquake events.

The work undertaken by our council and private building owners in upgrading our buildings to increase our ability to cope with earthquake events resulted in relatively little damage to our buildings or infrastructure. This allowed us to be able to support our neighbours in Hurunui and Kaikōura from the start.

Our council has been able to assist both councils with expertise and resources, and I am supporting my colleague, Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith, working together in responding to North Canterbury’s needs.

It’s at times like these that we come together as a community, keeping connected to support each other.

I spoke in Parliament’s General Debate about the impact of the earthquake on Waimakariri and how we are supporting our neighbouring districts in North Canterbury. We also looked after our own in the hours immediately after the event and it was great to hear about the night-shift workers who were coming out to check on evacuees parked in the parking lots of our supermarkets and who supplied them with food and support. The Civil Defence volunteers manning the evacuation welfare centres in Woodend, Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Oxford also supported our community through the night and I would like to thank them for being there for our community.

For residents of Kaikōura and Hurunui, the recovery will take longer and central and local Government are working together to help these communities get back on their feet.

Immediate support to help small businesses in Kaikōura, Cheviot, Waiau, Rotherham, Mount Lyford and Ward came with the announcement of a $7.5 million wage subsidy package. This was extended this week to larger businesses that can’t operate for an extended period and which don’t have business continuity insurance. The scale of damage means restoring transport and communications links will take time and the lack of road access to Kaikōura will impact the district’s key industries of tourism, hospitality and fisheries. The subsidy will give employers the confidence to retain their permanent staff while we get more certainty on the future of these industries.

A primary-sector support package to help with the repair of assets that are non-insurable, like farm bridges and water infrastructure, is also being provided and $2 million has been allocated to assess the damage to the coastal environment and develop recovery measures.

 While Waimakariri can count itself fortunate, I know many people will be feeling anxious and stressed as the continuing aftershocks bring back unwelcome memories of what our community has gone through with earthquakes.  If you or someone you know needs support, please contact my offices or the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846. With my background in mental health, I know it is important to check with family and friends to see they are getting the support they need.

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