Regional | South Auckland

Residents return to flood-hit Auckland neighbourhoods

This article first appeared on RNZ

South Auckland’s flood-damaged neighbourhoods are coming back to life as residents finally return to their homes.

But there are still a lot more people in dire need for support, more than a year on after the Auckland Anniversary floods.

Auckland faced unprecedented flooding, driving hundreds from their homes and claiming the lives of four people in January 2023.

Some streets in Māngere have been like ghost towns since.

Neighbourhoods around Te Ararata Stream and Harania Creek were hard hit, with families having to move out until their homes were made safe again.

I Am Māngere’s Lio Tafolua leads a team helping affected residents with lawn mowing, water blasting, moisture vacuums and rubbish skips, while connecting them with other support services.

With necessary repairs now being completed at these homes, and local flood risk solutions in planning, people were returning, Tafolua said.

On any given week, the team could be cutting around 20 lawns across Māngere, and lending out a range of equipment to help returning residents clear up properties.

“The beauty of seeing the streets transformed from then to now is really something,” Tafolua said.

“And with people moving back in, it’s starting to feel like it’s alive again. But even after people have moved back, it’s a long road to recovery.”

Auckland Council-led Tāmaki Makaurau Recovery Office was helping residents who were affected by the floods.

Recovery navigator service manager Manu Joyce said people were not always accessing support because they felt their need wasn’t as great.

“The need is there, but people care about everyone else,” Joyce said.

“There are people who have lost a huge amount of furniture, and might not be sleeping on a bed, and still they might refuse the support initially because they think there are people out there who have a greater need than them.”

Her team was established after the floods to help coordinate the Auckland-wide repair and rebuild efforts.

Joyce led a team of 37 navigators, and worked closely with community groups like I Am Māngere.

“In the beginning, people were holding on and trying to get through in response, now this much further down the track we’re seeing a little more fatigue.”

Joyce said a wellbeing fund has been set up with their community partners, acknowledging how long recovery has been.

“Recovery has a long tail and it’s going to continue on.

“There’s a huge amount that we don’t know about and those are the people we’re trying to reach, we’re told that they are the people that felt forgotten.”

Earlier this month, community partners conducted an outreach in south Auckland.

“What I’m focused on is to get the word out there. I want anybody who was impacted, and still needs support, to come forward.”

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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