Māori support package delivers for whānau

Across the motu, the Māori response package has supported hard-to-reach and vulnerable whānau during the COVID-19 pandemic including those who live in remote areas, kaumātua and the homeless. 

Most of the $56 million pūtea announced on 22 March as part of the Government’s $500 million to strengthen our health service to fight COVID-19 has now been fully committed to Māori communities. 

“Our first priority is to support our people as they stay home to break the chain of transmission of the virus and save lives,” Associate Minister of Health and Minister for Whanau Ora Peeni Henare said. 

“That’s why the majority of the Māori response package, $45 million, went to support Whānau Ora, and a tailored health response for our communities during lockdown. 

“So far:

  • 132 Māori Health providers that focus on outreach and testing have received funding boosts
  • 79 Community Based Assessment Centres have been set up in our communities
  • Whānau Ora agencies have delivered over 86,000 care and hygiene packages, with 40,000 more on their way
  • Nearly 40,000 flu jabs have been provided to Māori, across DHBs, providers, and pharmacies ;and
  • A social media campaign to provide public health and social sector support has reached 350,000 so far. 

“The Ministry worked closely with Tumu Whakarae (DHB Māori General Managers) to identify strong providers in the Māori health network who showed they could effectively support the COVID-19 response.

“I am confident that our targeted approach will ensure the funding has maximum reach and impact,” Peeni Henare said. 

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said she was pleased that so much of the funding was injected into Māori communities in the first week of lockdown, with the initial focus on providing the essentials like kai, clean water and adequate housing to vulnerable whānau and communities. 

“In that first week, 2,000 care packs made a huge difference to the lives of people who don’t usually like to ask for help, such as whānau and kaumātua living in places as far away as Mōtītī Island in the Bay of Plenty,” Nanaia Mahuta said.  

“The Response Fund has also been used to support the establishment of regional Māori hubs led by urban marae in Auckland and tribal collectives in regions like Northland, Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Hawkes Bay and Manawatū.  

“The coordinated approach taken by hapū, iwi, marae and local Māori providers with support from Te Puni Kōkiri is proving to be highly effective,” Nanaia Mahuta said. 

Māori Tourism, Poutama Trust and the Federation of Māori authorities have been working together to provide support and advice to Māori businesses throughout COVID-19. 

“Together they have reached out to over 600 businesses, received over 2000 calls via their 0800 number and provided technical advice to businesses needing specific guidance,” Hon Kelvin Davis said. 

“We have supported 43 Maori groups across the country to develop and implement their pandemic plans and responses. 

Te Arawhiti supported iwi and Māori organisations across the country to be able to:

  • Develop pandemic plans
  • Communicate to tribal members – including the setup of 0800 numbers, website and social media support
  • Fund transport plans for kaumātua and kuia (kai drop offs and transport to medical appointments)
  • Support volunteers 

The Māori Covid-19 support package includes $30 million to Māori health providers, $15 million to Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies, $10 million to Whānau Māori Community and Marae Response Fund, $470,000 to Te Arawhiti and $1 million to Māori Business.

Quotes provided from other parties 

“This funding gives us that extra assistance to reach our whānau locally and remotely. It enables us to keep providing our people with the health support they need during the COVID-19 response,” says Terry Nicholas, Executive Coordinator of Southland health provider, Hokonui Rūnanga.  

“As Māori health providers, our whānau rely on us for the health support and information they need to stay safe, especially now during this pandemic. The funding has allowed us to establish a CBAC within our high-needs community. The establishment of this CBAC so close to home has shown whānau how serious this issue is,” says George Reedy, Chief Executive of Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.

Other measures the Government has announced to fight COVID-19 to date include: 

  • $23 billion economic package including wage subsides to help over 1.5 million New Zealanders
  • $500 million public health funding for the immediate response
  • A six-month deferred mortgage scheme for home-owners, so people don’t lose their homes
  • A Business Finance Guarantee and business tax measures to support cash flow, and help businesses continue to operate
  • A doubling of the Winter Energy Payment so older New Zealanders can stay warm during winter
  • Main benefit increases and help for those on benefits and the pension who are stranded overseas
  • Rent freezes and a ban on terminations of tenancies/evictions other than in exceptional circumstances
  • Nearly 1,000 motel units found for homelessness and vulnerable people
  • Further support for small and medium-sized businesses, including a $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme, changes to the tax loss continuity rules and further business consultancy support
  • Measures to support commercial tenants and landlords.
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