Ngāti Awa to host one year anniversary event to remember the victims of Whakaari.

Whakaari He Rā Maumahara Anniversary

We can confirm that Te Rūnanga of Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa) in co-operation with local and national government will host the official remembrance event to mark the first anniversary of the Whakaari/White Island eruption on 9 December, 2019. The event will take place at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae, 105 Muriwai Drive, Whakatāne on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th December, 2020. Exact timing and a programme is still being confirmed.

In planning this event we have been speaking with whānau that were most directly impacted by the tragedy. These include the survivors and the families who lost loved ones. The feedback we have received so far is that some whānau would like to participate in an event whereas others would prefer to observe. We are keeping their wishes at the centre of our planning and working towards a small-scale event that is respectful of the families wishes and at the same time provides an appropriate commemoration for the victims.

We have also decided in the interest of public safety to observe Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions even if  New Zealand is at Level 1. This means that we will limit the numbers inside the Mataatua Wharenui to 50 visitors, and the public gathering to 100 people. We will be encouraging attendees to wear masks or face coverings and will ensure social distancing is observed. We will review this decision as the day approaches ensuring that the health and safety of the public is at the forefront of our decision making.

We appreciate that with international borders likely to be closed overseas survivors and the families of victims are unlikely to be able to attend. To ensure that they can participate virtually, the event will be livestreamed and we are inviting these people to provide pre-recorded video content should they wish to. Ngāti Awa will work with its government partners and the local community to provide a larger and more inclusive commemoration event at a future date when travel is not restricted and when we are confident that that Covid-19 virus does not pose a serious risk.

Detailed plans for the event on 9 December are still being finalised and will be published in due course. In the meantime we would encourage you to check the Ngāti Awa website: https://www.ngatiawa.iwi.nz/ where we will providing updates.

-Ends-

For further information please contact Tui McDonald on 027 252 7017.

Tours to Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary

Status: For immediate release

Date: 16 January 2020

Subject: Tours to Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary

White Island Tours Limited has recommenced tours to Moutohorā Island for the first time since the Whakaari/White Island eruption on 9 December 2019.

CEO Tracey Hook says that whilst this is a positive step forward in terms of providing certainty and employment for staff, the recommencement of tours will be a sombre and emotional occasion.

White Island Tours has carried out tours to Moutohorā for a number of years.

‘Tourism is an important contributor for our local economy and our staff are eager to get back to work,’ says Tracey.

No prohibitions had been placed on Moutohorā following the eruption, but the tour had been temporarily ceased out of respect for the victims, staff and affected families. 

Moutohorā Island is jointly managed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Te Papa Atawhai through Te Tapatoru a Toi and is a designated Wildlife Management Reserve.

Moutohorā is a pest-free oasis that is home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles.  The tour includes a journey through the regenerated native bush before stopping at the island’s secluded hot water beach. 

‘This is an important milestone for not just our staff but also the broader Whakatāne community,’ says Tracey.

‘We thank everyone locally, nationally and internationally for their support. Our hearts and prayers remain firmly with the families who were and continue to be affected by this tragedy.’

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Diane Berghan

dberghan@gmail.com

021 221 5332

Statement from Paul Quinn, Chair of White Island Tours Limited

Status: For immediate release

Date: 11 December 2019

Statement from Paul Quinn, Chair of White Island Tours Limited:

“First and foremost, we would like to express our sorrow and offer condolences to those who have lost their loved ones following the eruption on Whakaari / White Island on Monday.

At this stage, recovery of loved ones who are still on the island is of paramount concern and all of our resources including vessels, protection equipment and personnel have been made available to NZ Police and Civil Defence to support the recovery mission.

For Ngāti Awa (tangata whenua of Whakatāne) our responsibility to provide care for our people and visitors during this difficult time is foremost in our minds and actions. We are focussed on wrapping the necessary support around affected families and staff, all of whom are understandably distraught.

Karakia (prayer) services are being held daily to give staff and affected families an opportunity to come together in our grief.

Local liaisons are being appointed to support overseas families who are arriving in Whakatāne. Support packages are being put together today including practical and useful items for those families as they await news and updates on the recovery mission.

We are committed to facilitating family members’ travel and other arrangements while we all await the return of loved ones to their families.

We would like to acknowledge the numerous offers of support from our community and also wider Iwi from across the country.

Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa.

There are many questions that are left to be answered but our priority at this time is on the welfare of those affected.”

Paul Quinn.

 

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Diane Berghan dberghan@gmail.com 021 221 5332

Whakaari/White Island Emergency

Status: For immediate release Date: 9 December 2019

Subject: Whakaari/White Island Emergency

White Island Tours Limited, are deeply saddened following the significant eruption at Whakaari / White Island this afternoon.

Paul Quinn, Chairman for White Island Tours says, “Devastation is an understatement. This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been impacted.”

White Island Tours Limited are currently assisting Police and Civil Defence with the official emergency response.

“We acknowledge the considerable efforts from Police and Civil Defence and will continue to do whatever is necessary throughout the rescue operation, says Paul.

Our immediate focus is on supporting our staff, manuhiri and respective whānau, who have been significantly impacted and are showing immense strength and courage.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Diane Berghan dberghan@gmail.com 021 221 5332