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From books to civil defence – helping out in times of need2 min read

Mar 8, 2023 2 min

From books to civil defence – helping out in times of need2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
L-R Dany Miller-Kareko (Manager, Onehunga/Oranga Hub), Moanaroa Kingi (The Panamasians O Tuia Trust), two New Zealand Defence Force members (names unknown), Eileen Phillips (Onehunga Library), Rose Martin (Māori Warden), Mahen Mahendran (Panmure Library)

Staff at the Onehunga-Oranga Community Hub have been away from their usual posts lately, on shifts at nearby civil defence centres, where their experience at helping the community is the perfect skill to have.

Hub manager, Dany Miller, says as council staff, the team is aware that they may be called upon to help in any civil defence emergency. Their people skills are ideal to help in these situations, as answering queries and helping people is their daily “bread and butter”.

“We’re information experts,” says Dany, and says the staff also have useful training in assisting people in stressful situations.

Their experience with children also comes in handy at the centre, spending time reading and doing puzzles in the lounge area, to give them something fun to do, and for their parents to have a short break to rest, or talk to staff.

Hub staff have mostly been on duty at Colin Maiden Park in Glen Innes, Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre in Māngere, and at the now-closed Riverside and Fickling Centre hubs. They help triage people who come in, assist with accommodation needs and help direct people to other services on offer such as Ministry of Social Development and Kāinga Ora, and just provide general pastoral care and support.

“We all feel grateful to have the opportunity to support people,” says Dany.

At Colin Maiden Park, the venue is a former medical centre, and the consulting rooms make ideal spaces for families to sleep, while other venues, including the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa venue in Māngere have a more marae-style sleeping arrangement. People can get food and clothing, information, and “some simply come to be somewhere they feel safe,” says Dany.

At the time of writing, the centres at Colin Maiden Park in Glen Innes and Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre in Māngere were open, but check on aucklandemergencymanagement.org.nz or call 0800 22 22 00.