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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) has prioritised the need of our Māori communities during the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown. The creation of Te Pouwhakarae sees a Māori-focussed team working alongside iwi, hapū, whānau and marae to identify and bridge gaps in the delivery of welfare services.   

Since the start of the Alert Level 4 lockdown period, Te Pouwhakarae has managed Māori-specific queries and the delivery of welfare parcels. It has also worked with Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre to distribute more than 14,000 flyers in English, Te Reo and Tongan with information and government advice around staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The team has also redeployed Māori staff from across the council to assist with AEM’s welfare support efforts. 

Thirteen of these staff have been supporting Whānau Ora providers and marae with the delivery of kai and hygiene packs. A further twelve staff were redeployed to make outreach calls to over 700 vulnerable Māori in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). 

New website to support Māori during COVID-19

Te Pouwhakarae is also supporting the launch of Paerangi.nz – a website dedicated to helping Māori communities during COVID-19. The website has been designed to be accessible for our disabled communities, with information in NZ Sign Language, audio (Te Reo and English) and easy-read. People can also call the Paerangi helpline on 0800 100 132. The assistance council has given to the initiative includes the sharing of information and staff support.

Paerangi is the collaboration of three community organisations – Te Kōtahi a Tāmaki (a collective of 36 Tāmaki marae), Te Roopu Wairoa (supporting whānau with impairments), and Te Ohonga (Māori cultural advisors and kaumātua supporting the health sector).

Collaboration between Te Pouwhakarae and Paerangi has also seen guidelines for tangihanga during Alert Level 4 developed in both English and Te Reo. 

Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Chair Councillor Alf Filipaina says, “It’s great to see that the importance of having a Māori-led response was recognised early on and that Te Pouwhakarae was established quickly. 

“We’re already seeing positive outcomes coming out of the group, and I’m sure it will bring reassurance and support to some of our most vulnerable people as we continue to face this unprecedented challenge together. It’s all about our communities.” 

Councillor Angela Dalton, who holds the Auckland Council’s Māori outcomes portfolio, says “It’s essential that our Māori communities feel listened to and supported during what can be a very worrying time for many. The work that Te Pouwhakarae is doing helps to ensure that the welfare of these communities is a priority, that their needs are being met, and that will go some way to taking some of that worry away from people.”

Auckland Emergency Management Group Controller Kate Crawford says the establishment of Te Pouwhakarae will ensure that Māori communities will be able to have their voices heard and receive appropriate support while we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As one of our most vulnerable groups, it is essential that Māori can voice their needs and concerns and have them acted on, and that is what Te Pouwhakarae will enable them to do. By opening those lines of communication, we can support a Māori-led response and direct resources where they are needed. 

“To date, we’ve redeployed Māori staff to deliver kai and hygiene packs and make welfare calls to vulnerable Māori to ensure they have access to essential services and supplies during the level 4 lockdown.

“We’re also working with Paerangi to communicate important information that is most relevant to these communities, including government guidelines around tangihanga.”

Te Pouwhakarae was established out of the success of similar Māori-led responses to situations like Whakaari and Kaikōura.

Contact Te Pouwhakarae at akgeocpouwhakarae@aklc.govt.nz

MIL OSI