National | Care package

Te Āti Awa and polytech team up to deliver care packages to students isolating with Covid

WelTec tamaiti whāngai team lead Dave Lomax and student Tyla Buckton-Pereira.  Photo / Supplied

A Wellington polytech has teamed up with Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa to deliver care and kai packages to students isolating with Covid.

In week four of their deliveries, WelTec is delivering over 35 kai and care packages to isolating students and their whānau from Porirua through Upper Hutt and down the Hutt Valley to Wainuiomata. When they first started in March, they were delivering only eight packages.

“We started doing the packs as a result of seeing first-hand the impact Covid was having on our ākonga and their whānau,” says Hinemoa Priest, Kaiwhakahaere Māori at WelTec.

The packages have been possible through a partnership with Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa in Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt and hardship support from Te Pukenga, New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

"To truly get a sense of how far-reaching this is, of some 20 students we supported with care packages in week two, a total of 54 adults and 20 tamariki were in the households that received the items,” says WelTec Tamaiti Whāngai advisor Susan Luke Kaitautoko, who has been working with the team to get the packages made up and delivered.

The packs include breakfast, lunch and dinner items, such as Weetbix, tinned soups, spaghetti, dry pasta, sauce, as well as hygiene products like shampoo, washing powder, tissues and sanitiser.

Rapid antigen tests provided by Te Rūnanganui o Te Ati Āwa are also included, as well as a letter from WelTec chief executive Mark Oldershaw wishing the students well and reassuring them that their place on their course of study will be available to them once they have recovered.

Tyla Buckton-Pereira and Dave Lomax.  Photo / Supplied

Te Ao ‘Tee’ Herbert-Te Awa and Tylah Buckton-Pereira were two students who received packs and are now back on campus.

“To be honest, it meant a lot to me and my four-year-old daughter,” says mum, Tee, who had to isolate for over two weeks when she and her daughter tested positive.

"When I got Covid not only did I have to stay away from my work at the supermarket in Upper Hutt, which meant I didn't get paid, but I couldn't go out and get food for us. So it was a big relief when WelTec got in touch to say they had groceries for us. We had something to eat and I could save the money I had for rent and utility bills."

Tylah says the care packs were hugely helpful for her and her whānau while she was isolating.

"I appreciated the health and hygiene items the most, and the best thing was the tissues - it was a lifesaver as Covid was really bad for me, having all the symptoms at once and difficult to deal with," she says.

Five students who have no device at home to enable them to participate in online learning received laptops from Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa and a further 10 students are also making applications.

"As an iwi provider we see the need right in front of us and we need to continue to help with more immediacy and more impact, particularly in turbulent times and times of increasing pressures like the cost of living," says Wirangi Luke, chief executive of Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa.