Generous Kiwis, as well as corporate and international donors, raised $3.5 million for the Red Cross November 2016 Earthquake Appeal, all of which will be spent helping affected residents recover from the disaster.

New Zealand Red Cross acting Secretary General Anne Smith says the next 18 months will see an increase in the number of locally-led Red Cross programmes and initiatives rolled out in the quake-hit Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough regions. Anne says:

We learnt from the Canterbury earthquake recovery that addressing the well-being and emotional needs of residents is crucial for the effective recovery of a community after such a significant event.

Door-knocking and outreach

Red Cross staff and volunteers have conducted a comprehensive outreach programme across the earthquake-hit regions, visiting every home in Kaikoura and surrounds, as well as Seddon, Ward, Clarence, Kekerengu, Hawarden, Waikari and Culverden. Red Cross also partnered with the Rural Support Trust who undertook outreach to all rural areas across North Canterbury and Marlborough.

Findings from this door-knocking initiative have helped shape the direction of the November 2016 Recovery programme as Red Cross finds the most effective ways to support each community.

Targeting the specific needs

“This is a complex recovery. Our outreach teams discovered that different communities are facing their own unique issues and it’s important that we identify and address these needs effectively instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach,” Mrs Smith says.

“For example, we are running drop-in centres in Kaikoura focused on providing young parents and earthquake-affected residents a place to talk and connect. This helps break the sense of social and geographical isolation people might feel and provides a safe place where they can talk about the issues they’re facing.”

In Marlborough – particularly in communities like Seddon – outreach teams found that a high number of children have sleeping troubles and many residents are exhausted by the daily aftershocks.

“To help address these needs we’re hosting free well-being workshops and psychological first aid courses, as well as providing children’s books that carry strong preparedness and anxiety messaging to libraries, schools and early childhood education centres,” Mrs Smith says. “These provide parents and children with practical ways to aid their recovery journey and will help them deal with any future events.”

The Damaged Home Grants

The Red Cross’ $1,000 Damaged Home Grants launched in December 2016 saw Red Cross receive 400 applications and distribute $341,000 to affected residents. To be eligible, applicants had to have been living in yellow- and red-stickered homes or were required to evacuate for seven days or more following the November 14 earthquakes.

Dr Rob Gordon workshops

During March Red Cross conducted a series of recovery workshops with renowned Australian disaster psychologist Dr Rob Gordon across Christchurch, Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough. An estimated 200 people attended the six community sessions where Dr Gordon explained the recovery process and provided practical tips to aid each person’s recovery.

Red Cross initially brought Dr Gordon over for a series of workshops following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquakes; his talks reassured people that their responses were normal and provided a safe place to discuss their experiences and emotions.