Hurunui says Thank You

Special Community Service Award to the Community 2017

On Friday 23 June 2017, the Hurunui District Council presented its Community, Youth, Environment and Heritage Awards. There was one very special award also presented this evening. Below is Mayor Winton Dalley's speech notes from the award:

Two minutes past midnight on the 14th November 2016 our District was struck with a magnitude 7.8 Earthquake, understood to be the most violent Earthquake ever recorded.

In the space of seconds the fracturing of multiple fault lines and the associated violent shaking wrought huge damage across a wide swathe of our district, extending from the mountains to the sea.

We Humans have amazing natural instincts that are instantly activated by a disaster.

The instinct of survival ; where many of our people miraculously in those terrifying moments unbelievably found their way to safety out of their homes that were being torn apart around them.

The instinct of caring; of taking responsibility for the welfare of others, this instinct drove many to leave their own damaged homes, not deterred by the darkness, the noise, and the violent aftershocks, to ensure that their neighbours and their community were safe.

That same instinct along with a sense of responsibility, inspired our Local Volunteer Emergency Services, Police and individuals to mobilise instantly and go to the aid of those who may need their help, many of those volunteers carried on for days, working long hours caring for their community.

As darkness gave way to dawn the extent and the severity of the damage became more evident.

In our villages the extent of the severely damaged and destroyed homes and businesses, the destruction wrought on our precious community facilities, the loss of power, water, communications, road access, and instant business interruption all became starkly evident

Across the Rural Hinterland the sight of similar destruction of homesteads, farm buildings, farm infrastructure, water supplies, power, and communications, landslides and fractured land greeted the dawn, many properties and some communities were completely isolated due to the severe damage to roads and bridges.

The instinct of generosity; the instinct of generosity and the human desire to ensure that those affected by a disaster want for nothing was ignited in the hearts of thousands of people all over the country, resulting in a flood of food and supplies pouring into the District, to the point of embarrassment.

This historic event inevitably generated many acts of humanity and many great stories of generosity.

We need to share some of these stories; the story of the little boy who arrived at the collection depot in Rangiora, with a shopping bag full of toiletries and baby stuff, purchased with all his available pocket money, he told them that someone will need these because of the earthquake.

Remember the flood of home baking and meals, the Christmas cakes, hundreds of them from service organisations, and 25 Christmas cakes specially baked by a small group of Rangiora senior citizens, you will all know similar stories of generosity.

We need to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of dollars of generous monetary donations from Corporates, Service Clubs, Trusts, Welfare and Charity organisations.

I spoke at a combined Rotary Club dinner in Christchurch just before Christmas and came home with cheques worth nearly ten thousand dollars.

Some will remember the generosity of the people who attended the fantastic Taste Hurunui fundraising event at the Casino, netting twenty six thousand dollars, to assist with the rebuild of Community facilities.

Recall the Charitable organisation that flew themselves from Auckland to Mt Lyford a few days before Christmas to personally deliver tens of thousands of dollars of cash to those who they wanted to help.

The old parable of the Poor Widows mite comes readily to mind, when rich men gave much, because they could, , and the Poor Widow gave a couple of cents, but she gave everything she had, we certainly received every level of generosity and we were equally thankful for them all.

Remember the two pop up swimming pools, the initiative of one young women who cared about our young people, the fun days and Christmas parties organised to relieve the stress in our young people.

The story of the women who challenged me in the turmoil of the first day, asking, what are we doing about looking after the children? This simple caring question resulted in Corporate generosity providing hundreds of Teddies to comfort our young people. It also opened the opportunity during the delivery of the teddies for the children to share their stories, something they needed to do, and for us to explain to them how nature works, and how nature has created this fantastic district and this beautiful country.

The instinct of generosity was also demonstrated in countless offers of help and assistance, of time and labour, of expertise, and equipment.

We need to tell the stories of those who came voluntarily to assist those with devastated businesses and farms, of the supermarkets, Local stores, and businesses that were cleaned up, repaired and restocked, of cows milked on neighbouring farms, stories of the countless individuals and teams who travelled from all over the country to help with urgent seasonal farm work, tailing, calf marking, and to urgently repair fencing and water supplies, the list is endless, Ag industry Groups, who became known as Team Ag., playing a huge role in much of this, and we need to acknowledge those who felt compelled, and ignored the risk, to go behind the Cordon to go to the assistance of their friends and colleagues.

We also recall the voluntary supply of tents and caravans to the homeless, and the assistance to make rudimentary sheds and shelters into liveable homes, and we need to acknowledge the organisations and individuals who voluntarily visited hundreds of homes and families to check on their welfare.

Present here tonight are two volunteers who brought their building trade skills, building supplies, and gifts to our communities, they represent many who came into our community to assist with weather proofing, removing chimneys, and making many homes safe and liveable.

Public Utilities Service Providers and Contractors all responded willingly and urgently and continued to work long hours to restore services throughout the affected areas.

Likewise in the private sector, Service Industries responded magnificently to ensure that farm and business infrastructure was up and running urgently.

We extend our appreciation to them all.

We need to openly acknowledge that while some businesses have been devastated by the earthquake, others have benefitted, and we need to commend all those SH 1 businesses, for their outstanding efforts to create new business opportunities to replace what was instantly lost, and commend them for their determination to survive.

I want to especially acknowledge all those Volunteers who activated and managed the Sector Posts in Cheviot, Mt Lyford, and Waiau, thank you for your leadership and for holding your communities together until assistance was available.

Can I acknowledge the role played by Mt Lyford Lodge, which became the refuge for the whole village. And the Waiau Motor Camp for sharing their facilities with the community; and Cheviot A & P Assn for providing a Helicopter airport and catering for hundreds of people in transition from Kaikoura, visiting MPs, and helicopter pilots.

Thanks too to the Welfare Centre and its team operating from the Waiau School - a standout performer in the critical early hours and days following the earthquake, as was the Welfare Hub and its team that picked up that role to enable the school to get back to some normality, and has continued in a number of forms to give outstanding service, thank you.

This occasion is essentially our opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of community Volunteers.

However in the context of the earthquakes there is a sector of our community who need special acknowledgement, Hamish and his Council Team. In a disaster, the Council organisation instantly becomes Civil Defence under the Civil Defence and Emergency Act.

Immediately after the Earthquake, the Emergency Operations Centre was activated, Officers left their everyday responsibilities to pick up CD roles and some of these roles carry huge responsibilities.

The nature of an emergency can require people in these roles to work extended hours under pressure and stress levels not normally experienced.

While a part of the Council organisation moved to the Civil Defence front line, the remaining Staff picked up the load and carried a heavy burden to ensure that the business of Council continued to operate effectively and smoothly.

Our Utilities and Infrastructure Teams responded instantly, facing a massive task, and were prepared to work extended hours for days and weeks to ensure infrastructure was operational with urgency.

From my perspective and observation, every section of Council performed with distinction, and in my view the extraordinary contribution that each member made, clearly included a strong element of voluntary service to their community. Thank you all.

I want to acknowledge the presence here tonight of two men from the North Island who represent the army of personnel from Councils literally from all over the country who willingly left their jobs and homes to spend time assisting us with Civil Defence, and building inspection duties. Thank you.

Ins do you begin to identify and personally acknowledge, and thank all those thousands of individuals, organisations, entities, and businesses, who contributed so much voluntarily to our community in our hour of need?

Youtinctively; we wanted to extend our thankyous and acknowledgements to everyone personally, but how?

How simply can’t!

So many anonymous donations, so many who came and helped us totally under the radar.

Personally I want to acknowledge the countless messages of support and encouragement, they meant so much.

Some of you here tonight will not know quite why you have been invited, and why others are not here, some of you wear several representative hats.

Your presence here tonight is intended to be simply representative of all those multitude of organisations, entities, businesses and individuals who played a critical role, each of you have been chosen to carry the burden of privilege to represent this phenomenal New Zealand wide response and amazing

generosity to our people, no one is excluded, everyone is included in the acknowledgements offered tonight.

You will have noticed that there has been little naming of Individuals or Organisations, the enormity and the impossibility of adequately and appropriately acknowledging everyone individually simply needs to be accepted.  

Consequently, with the support of my Council and a number of Community Leaders it was agreed to present a Special Community Service Award tonight, collectively, to each and every one who made a contribution no matter how big or how small.

Before I present the Award, I want to announce that as a significant part of that Award, we will be working with, and offering support to each Local Community who may want to develop a lasting commemoration in some form of this natural disaster, including the honouring of all those who we have acknowledged tonight.

Some communities have already given some thought to this.

It is also envisaged that in unison with this, a significant event or events, will also be organised with the Communities to mark the anniversary of the November 2016 earthquake, for this we will also be offering our support.

This anniversary time will be an opportunity for full public participation, something that was simply not possible for this Award Ceremony.

To receive this Award tonight on behalf of every volunteer and professional, our Local people and those from across New Zealand who assisted us in any way, is a humble local man who was a first responder, who is dedicated to the care of his community and who epitomises all those great qualities of the Volunteer and all that is good in our people.

On behalf of my Community, and in humble gratitude to all who responded so magnificently in our hour of need, I have great pleasure in presenting this Special Hurunui Community Service Award.

Would Hugh Wells please come forward to receive this Award.


For more information and photos from the Hurunui District Council Awards please visit our Facebook page