Navigating rural life post-quake
An isolated rural community north of Kaikoura has found help in the form of an earthquake support navigator, as promised by the Government after the Kaikoura earthquake.
Kekerengu and Clarence are about an hour’s drive south of Blenheim down State Highway 1, near the slips that have blocked the route to Kaikoura.
Living in such isolation makes going to the doctor, seeing specialists and managing insurance claims difficult.
But Kekerengu resident Chris Wilson has taken on the role of navigator, tasked with linking residents with agencies and services.
Wilson knows most of his neighbours through his work with the East Coast Community Organisation and Neighbourhood Watch, and more recently assisted farmers to apply for the Ministry for Primary Industries Earthquake Recovery Fund.
He was appointed to the navigator role by the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation, and officially started in May.
Fellow navigators Candi Callaghan, Flo Joyce and Eileen Eriha work under Wilson’s supervision in Seddon and Ward, south of Blenheim.
Wilson was honoured by the appointment, but initially daunted by the broad job description, he said. The role has expanded from ‘‘health navigator’’ to encompass housing and insurance as well.
‘‘The challenge is working out what services to refer them to,’’ he said.
The navigators have visited every household in Seddon and Ward as part of the Winter Warmth programme. ’’Most people have a heating source. That was the primary concern. But in visiting, you get to understand their other issues.’’
The isolated nature of the com- munity has forced Wilson to think outside the box. Kekerengu and Clarence residents can visit doctors in Marlborough for free, including at the temporary clinic in Ward.
But Wilson has gone further and arranged an osteopath to fly up from Kaikoura to visit 11 Clarence and Kekerengu residents.
On the last Friday of the month, residents meet at the Kekerengu Community Centre for a catch-up and debrief with representatives from roading and health agencies, and the Kaikoura and Marlborough district councils.
Some people are clearly frustrated about how long it is taking to rebuild their lives, Wilson said.
‘‘You drive through the towns without thinking about it. But if you stop and visit you can see the extent some houses have suffered. Some of it’s visible, maybe the cladding has fallen off, while another house might look fine but the piles might be damaged.
‘‘I suppose it’s the same with people. We might look normal on the outside, but you never know what’s happening on the inside.’’
Earthquake support navigator Chris Wilson says keeping Clarence and Kekerengu residents connected with services can be a challenge.