National | Covid-19 Testing

Manaakitanga reigns supreme in South Auckland: Covid-19 response

"Tangata takahi manuhiri, he marae puehu. He marae manaaki tangata he tohu nō te rangatira."

'A person who mistreats his guest has a dusty marae. A marae that looks after people is chiefly.'

Local Māori communities throughout the country have been leaders in keeping whānau safe during the pandemic, and Manurewa Marae was one of the first organisations that stood up and answered the call for help from Papatoetoe High School. This follows the community outbreak of the highly transmissible UK variant of the coronavirus.

Manurewa Marae, along with other Māori organisations, including Papakura Marae and Ngā Whare Wātea Marae in Māngere were mobilised to help the high school with their testing station, which was inundated with people wanting a test.

Tūnuiārangi Mclean of Manurewa Marae says, "We are upholding the traditions of looking after people to its highest summit, to help whānau in Papatoetoe."

"The spirit and the heart of the marae is alive and well, especially with the arrival of this pandemic in Auckland."

Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughn Couillault was full of praise: "What an exceptional bunch of human beings."

"People put themselves potentially in harm's way, to help everybody out. So we had a fleet of volunteers, that just made everything easier." 
According to Manurewa Marae, manaakitanga has always been a key pillar of its work in South Auckland, to help anyone, even if that means their own whānau going without.

Matua Mclean says, " It's to provide any manaakitanga, not just for Papatoetoe but also for our wider community of Manurewa. Our whānau is still struggling. Lockdown is nothing new to us. You know we are used to this. We have done this three times now."

Papatoetoe has an enrolment of more than 1500 students, of whom are about 25% Māori.

Matua Mclean says, helping people has always been a quintessential trait of Māori, and is really on show during this lockdown, "This is what is helping with the strength, it is the spirit of the marae of Manurewa to help and support them."

Tomorrow Manurewa marae begins the big job of distributing food and essential products around South Auckland.