National | Māori Covid-19 Cases

Photobook tells story of life on the frontline for Tūranga health

Tūranga Health has produced a photo book that captures the gritty reality for its kaimahi as the Omicron strain of Covid-19 ripped through the Tai Rāwhiti region.

Chief executive Reweti Ropiha says the powerful images taken by locally acclaimed photographer Brennan Thomas will evoke memories and inspire conversations for years to come.

“It’s been a tumultuous two years and March 2022 stands out for many.”

Reweti told witnessing history repeat itself was the inspiration behind documenting life in lockdown.

"We looked at our timeline, everything that had happened with the Spanish Influenza and its trials and tribulations. So we wanted to tell our story about doing what we do in our backyard and recognise the efforts of our kaimahi who effectively put their hand up to do what is right, day in, day out."

During the month-long assignment, Turanga Health staff were photographed working at Covid-19 vaccination events and testing stations, in the general practice at Te Karaka, and while providing care in the community. Staff who were ill with Covid-19 or isolating with whānau were photographed outside their homes from a safe distance.

Rapid rise in cases

It was a time when case numbers in the region were climbing rapidly, and those numbers are also recorded in the book. Ropiha says that meant the many kaimahi had to effectively adopt a two-pronged approach of prevention via vaccinations and management of positive cases across the more than 80 sites around the coast.

The information gathered from that mammoth task, and the photographic memories captured will go a long way to informing and encouraging Tūranga Health kaimahi in future events, including the current response to Cyclone Gabrielle, Ropiha says.

"We've got a living portal that we could digest that now keeps us nimble and agile and moving forward. So there are fantastic lessons. For us, the sweet spot is our kaimahi. They too may inform their future generations of the efforts that we did in a challenging time with the fortitude to do what is right."

At this stage the book won't be released publically but Tūranga Health is hoping to have the book available in libraries, schools and other public spaces across the region where it is hoped the images and reality of life on the frontlines will be a conversation starter for years to come, and a reminder of what was a tumultuous time around the globe.

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