National | Hauora

Ngāti Apa, Ngā Wairiki well equipped to take on pandemic crisis

Many vulnerable elderly from the Rangitīkei district have struggled throughout lockdown. But thanks to the small team of essential health workers from Te Kōtuku Hauora o Rangitīkei, life for many has been a lot easier.

Experiences of the past have prepared Ngāti Apa for the crisis at hand.

CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa, Ngā Wairiki Grant Huwyler says, "We're coming from a backround of having responded to the 2004 floods in this region. We had flooding again in 2015, and slowly but surely I think we've got better at this crisis response process. So at one level within our Rūnanga we rally quite quickly and pandemics we're ideally kinda set up to respond given that we have a hauora service linked to our iwi organisation."

Drive-through health clinics, food parcels, hygiene parcels, firewood and many other basic essentials have been provided by local iwi. Their networking group 'Te Ranga Tupua' have also combined resources to assist the many in need at this time.

Huwyler also says, "When we talk about our client household we know we're dealing with our most vulnerable you know they are kaumātua, typically with high needs. There's poverty in our communities and we're already responding to that so immediately we were able to kick into action and provide a food bank."

Advocacy is an essential support that many of the local elderly desperately need. Many lack online experience and still need to do their week-to-week business manually.

Strategic Lead of whānau programmes at Te Kōtuku Hauora o Rangitikei Katarina Hina says, "We found a lot of them really struggling with technology phones or computers. Its not as easy to do online shopping, not at all. We've found that our Te Kōtuku Hauora team, who have spent the majority of their time, assisting our kaumātua with that frustration."

Rangitikei District councillor Waru Panapa says the council and Iwi have a strong relationship and share the commonality of supporting their community in times of need.

Panapa says, "The way that the council has interacted with Te Roopū Ahi Kaa, and going to the Maruata hui, it made me appreciate not every council is that open, to not only engagement with Māori but Andy (Rangitīkei Mayor) offered at our last meeting to Te Roopū Ahi Kaa to have representatives on the standing committees."

Huwyler says in closing, "It's really interesting how intense this period has been for all managers across the country because we've all found ourselves one way or another responding to the COVID situation with our communities.

Huwyler says all work will resume as per usual if the alert level drops next week.