Nav­i­gat­ing ru­ral life post-quake

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT - JEN­NIFER EDER

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.

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