Kaiko¯ura i-Site awarded for quake help
The Kaiko¯ura i-Site has scooped an innovation award for its perseverance and tenacity while working through the Kaiko¯ura earthquake.
Manager Mariet van Vierzen received the Innovation Award at the i-Site Visitor Information Network Conference in Ruapehu last week.
International visitors flocked to see the rugged coast and wildlife before the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. When the earthquake struck early Monday morning it was estimated about 85 per cent of people in town were from overseas.
The town was shut off, accessible only by sea and air, as countless slips blocked roads. Power and telecommunication networks were down, and thousands of tourists were trapped.
The i-Site became a central communication hub for tourists during and after the major disaster.
Van Vierzen said the award recognised how well the i-Site responded in a time of extreme adversity and how they dealt with the large amount of tourists stranded in town.
Van Vierzen said she was grateful the award recognised the way staff stepped up in a very difficult time.
‘‘It’s quite overwhelming to receive an award like that, and it comes down to a team effort.
‘‘The award is more about the way we dealt with the quake, and how well we communicated with civil defence,’’ she said.
‘‘It was an anxious time, but the staff really stepped up to help.’’
The i-Site closed for one day, and set up a desk outside to act as an information hub for tourists, until they could get back into the building.
‘‘There was great communication between civil defence and us, and we worked really well together.’’
The emergency operations centre was just across the road in the Kaiko¯ura District Council building, and staff just had to walk across the road to get information.
With so much damage to infrastructure and roads most of the queries were about when the roads would open and when the power and water would be back on.
As soon as the building was declared safe staff set about clearing up inside. There was a large crack in the floor, several other cracks in the walls and the stands had fallen over and broken, she said.
Power was restored on the third day and the i-Site was up and running again.
‘‘There were hundreds
of emails to reply to ... about the roads, status of the operators, booking cancellations, people offering accommodation for stranded people, offers to volunteer and donate money.
‘‘We were sending out a positive message as well trying to help people.’’
Destination Kaiko¯ura manager Glenn Ormsby said there were many offers of help.
‘‘We were the first point of contact for people, but eventually we had to pass it over to those coordinating the relief and recovery operation in the Kaiko¯ura District Council building.
‘‘We didn’t have the staff to cope with what was coming in - it was too big,’’ Ormsby said.
‘‘It’s great our staff received an award.
‘‘It was a great team effort.’’
Elaine Dunlevy, Raewyn Roy, i-Site manager Mariet van Vierzen, Chris Turner, Pam Sigglekow and Destination Kaiko¯ura manager Glenn Ormsby with the Innovation Award for perseverance and tenacity after the earthquake.