‘COVID-19 has highlighted the resilience that our people have’ - Ngāpuhi chair

By Jessica Tyson

Te Rūnanga o Ngāpuhi chairperson Mere Mangu says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the resilience that Northland people have.

She says that changing from Alert Level 4 to 3 next week won’t affect people in Northland as much as it will affect people living in other regions.

“We live the situation anyway," she says.

She says the pandemic has shown there are so many inequities that are needed to be addressed for people living in Northland.

“The first one of connectivity. Our children are watching TV and supposed to be getting educated. Well, I can categorically sit here and say that’s not happening in Tai Tokerau. We don’t have the connectivity.”

Another issue is the high level of unemployment, she says. However, in terms of testing, iwi in Northland are one step ahead.

Mangu says the national District Health Board statistics put the Māori population as being tested at 15 per cent around the country.

“Whereas in our own Kaikohe testing station alone, we have tested 85 per cent of the Māori population in our area. So what it tell me is that nationally Māori are not being tested enough.”

Mangu says if the one station can produce 85 per cent of the Māori population around Kaikohe to get tested, “we’re doing well with our Māori population locally but nationally there’s still that inequality about the testing of Māori.”

Ngāti Kahungungu

Chairperson of Ngāti Kahungungu Rūnanga, Ngahiwi Tomoana, says there is a lot of collaboration happening for Ngāti Kahungnu to support whānau in the region.

“Were all working together with iwi, hapu, whanau, as well as councils, as well as government agencies, as well as the private sector, he says.

“For example this morning the private sector was sending produce to whānau in Mangakino, a truckload of produce from our private sector; apples, onions, potatoes pumpkins and so on. There's huge collaboration right throughout the rohe.”

 This morning Tomoana was out on a fish trawler collecting kai for whānau.

“We just pulled up about 100 fish to be distributed to fish tomorrow morning, he says.

“When the going gets tough, you get going.”

Tomoana says the iwi will continue to ensure that no families in the rohe miss out on the resources during the pandemic, including testing and vaccinations.