Bay of Plenty residents are being asked to care for and help Ovation of the Seas cruise passengers, who will disembark from Tauranga today.
A number of passengers from the ship were involved in yesterday’s Whakaari White Island eruption and everyone on board has been deeply affected by this tragic event.
Ovation of the Seas will depart the Port of Tauranga at 6.15pm today. Her passengers have been able to leave the ship from 10am.
Locals are asked to wave the cruise ship off from Pilot Bay and Mauao when she departs, to show her passengers the love and care the community extends to those affected.
“Now, more than ever, we’re calling on our community to join together and ensure we take care of those Ovation of the Seas passengers who will remain in Tauranga to be with their loved ones,” says Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell.
“They have been caught up in an event that will have a long-lasting impact on all of their lives. Our deepest condolences are with those who have been injured, and with the loved ones of those who have perished.”
“I ask our generous community to show aroha and give support to the cruise passengers in our city today,” says Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne.
Local Iwi Ngāi Te Rangi will be offering a Karakia Tau Te Mauri -prayer vigil- for the affected passengers at 4pm today.
The Karakia Tau Te Mauri will take place inside the Port of Tauranga gates to settle the spirit of those affected before departing.
Many locals are also planning on sending off the cruise ship, with cars tooting their horns as the ship descends out of the Tauranga Port.
Work continues to enable recovery
Work is continuing today to enable the recovery of the eight people who remain unaccounted for on Whakaari/White Island following yesterday’s eruption.
Recovering the remaining victims and returning them to their loved ones is an absolute priority for NZ Police, says a police spokesperson.
Police are working closely with experts from GNS Science to get an understanding of the current environment on Whakaari/White Island and the likelihood of any further volcanic activity, as well as any risks posed to recovery teams by gases in the atmosphere.
“This is a heartbreaking situation for all involved and we are working to provide every support possible to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in the eruption.
“Police Family Liaison Officers are being deployed around New Zealand to assist with that support.
“Police understand the high level of interest from media – both domestic and international – regarding the nationalities of those killed and injured in the eruption.
The scene at White Island following the fatal eruption on Monday. Photo: ARHT.
“That information, as well as condition updates for those injured in the eruption, will be released at the earliest opportunity.”
Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner says her heart goes out to the injured, the missing and the deceased, and their families and whānau.
A Civil Defence Centre opened today at Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi (Whakatāne Library) at 49 Kākahoroa Drive, Whakatāne to provide psycho-social support to those that need this.
“Please note that the Whakatāne iSITE is closed for at least the next 24 hours - our immediate priority is support for those visitors and operators affected by yesterday's tragic events.”