If you follow E2NZ on Twitter you’ll know we’ve been talking to tourists trapped in Kaikoura after the devastating quake on 13 November 2016.
Tensions have been running high in the small town since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake which rendered it landlocked and cut off from essential services.
At the 1 pm daily meetings people gathered on the grassy knoll for status updates – how to register to get out, who would get evacuation priority, and the mode of transport.
Carping started from day one. People were upset that Chinese tourists were evacuated by their embassy. Comments about all available helicopters being chartered by Chinese, with the locals being unable to access them started to proliferate. The cost of a flight out of town was said to be $200 a head.
Retired rugby hero Richie McCaw, now a commercial helicopter pilot, was even seen evacuating Chinese visitors out of the town. A double whammy for the locals who had to remain.
Locals on high ground woke the morning after the tsunami to find camper vans and displaced tourists who’d fled the flood camped outside their homes. Some were quick to complain about “some ethnic groups” that “shit on the footpath”.
Forgetting that hours before they probably cheerfully sold goods and services to the same “ethnic groups” that they now turn their noses up at.
One has to wonder, how many offered the “ethnic groups” use of their own facilities?
At the 1 pm briefings some Kaikoura locals complained loudly about visitors getting airlifted while they were told they had to stay to ‘help with the recovery’. Others complained on social media that they wanted to be evacuated but had to stay to provide essential services. There was seemingly no countenance of the more sensible option of evacuating the whole town until water, electricity and sewerage were re-connected.
‘Signing the pledge’
But this practice of making locals stay put after an earthquake is nothing new in New Zealand.
After the Christchurch earthquake people were guilt-tripped into staying in the city, there were fears a mass exodus would prevent the city from recovering and take much needed revenue away.
The societal obligation and peer pressure to stay was so great that people were being told to sign pledges to remain, rather than opt for an evacuation that would have protected their personal safety and mental wellbeing. Read more about signing The Pledge
New Zealand First MP attacks tourists for being tourists in Kaikoura
Finally, the trauma and stress of the last few days reached a peak with a MP complaining that tourists are daring to be tourists in the town, and are a burden on the locals.
They’ve “overstayed their welcome”. Remember, this is a town that depends on tourists for its livelihood and will die without them. Also consider this: food and supplies are being transported into Kaikoura based on the number of people still there. Everyone is getting their fair share and it’s all donated in good faith and with generosity of spirit for everyone to use, not just the locals.
Some visitors have chosen to remain in Kaikoura because they’ve been told a land route will be opened Friday or Saturday. They stay because they want to drive their vehicles out or have nowhere else to stay, not because they’re freeloading off the locals. They’d probably spend their cash in the town if they could, there’s an ATM for them to use but what can they spend it on?.
They’re not “freeloading”. For some reason It’s ok for the locals to have a beer and relax to try to get over their earthquake trauma, but not people living out of caravans and tents?
Here’s what the NZ media are writing about it. Interestingly, it’s an MP from New Zealand First who is making these comments…
Stranded tourists are drinking and partying through the night causing grief for locals dealing with the quake calamity, an MP claims.
New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark says some people initially stranded in the tourist town were now taking advantage of the generosity of locals, receiving free food and hand-outs and partying into the small hours.
About 1000 tourists trapped by Monday’s 7.8 earthquake have been flown or shipped out of the region in a major mass evacuation this week.
But Mark said some had more than outstayed their welcome and were causing problems.
“During a visit by New Zealand First to Kaikoura this morning, we were advised there is some frustration with non-locals and non-emergency helpers who have decided to prolong their stay in the town and are accepting the tremendous generosity of locals.
“Some of these people have been spending their nights drinking and partying.”
He said locals were frustrated and wanted those who weren’t part of the community or the rescue effort to leave town.
Mark said the Government needed to step in and instruct police to request those who were “malingering” in Kaikoura to continue their travels before they started over-staying their welcome.
“Kiwis are known as being generous and hospitable – but it only goes so far. These people who are prolonging their stay and receiving free food and hand-outs should be advised to move on.” source New Zealand Herald
We say cut the tourists some slack. They’ll be gone soon enough and then Kaikoura will be desperate to have them, and their tourist dollars, back. More so now that the Marine Tourism Industry’s infrastructure and natural resources have taken such a hit – sadly that aspect of Kaikoura’s tourism may never recover.
Thinking of visiting Kaikoura? Do the residents a favor – don’t visit until the town is 100% up and running and its infrastructure is fully repaired. This may mean waiting a long time until the aftershocks have died down. But wait you must.
Kaikoura needs to be fully able to allow you to spend your tourist dollar there. Until then you’ll just be burden.
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