Kaiko¯ura i-Site awarded for quake help

Kaikoura Star - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - PIPPA BROWN

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.’’

PIPPA BROWN/STUFF

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.

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