Firewood and kai to warm Te Arawa whānau homes

By Te Ao - Māori News

This year's winter in Rotorua has seen the temperature fall as low as minus 1 degree at times and rainfall has been measured at an all-time high.

Families in Rotorua have been doing it tough when it comes to keeping their loved ones warm and dry and given the loss of jobs and having to isolate during these Covid-19 times, things are not getting any easier. 

That’s why Te Arawa Whānau Ora identified what the top needs were and started distributing firewood to those in need.

 A total 100 cubic metres of firewood was distributed to 100 homes in Rotorua, Mourea, Rotoiti, Horohoro, Mamaku and Awahou over the past three days.

Te Arawa Whānau Ora bought the firewood from Blazing Firewood Rotorua at $120 a cubic metre and the company donated boxwood and fire starters to each of the 100 homes.

Help from Whānau Ora

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare announced an extra $23 million for Whānau Ora as part of the government’s Covid support. It funded this initiative, buying the firewood for $12,000.

Amanda Uri from Te Arawa Whānau Ora led four teams as they loaded trailers of red gum, which had been dried and split for over a year and was ready for the fireplace.

With Te Arawa Whānau Ora support colleague Tiannie Hillman-Lepper, she sent the teams to people's homes to make deliveries. They used their strong Te Arawa contacts database to mobilise quickly and reach those in need.

“We know there is a need out there to be warm in your home and to have a kai. It is about us taking the lessons we have had over the last few days and looking at ways we can make this a sustainable option for whānau as well.  Kai and keeping warm is definitely our priority for whānau here” Uri says.

Whānau who received the firewood were appreciative. Gilrilene Pita of Ford Block said

“It is awesome because I have got an elderly mum and she is over 70 and we have got to keep her warm somehow,” Gilrilene Pita of Ford Block says.

Also in Ford Block David Rogers explains: “The cold goes through the whole house and, once the fire is going, choice” and Eva Tione of Rotorua Central as she watched one of the teams offloading wood on her driveway said, “We have to stay home and it is hard to get access to these things that we are used to.”

Kai in their cupboards

Tiannie Hillman- Lepper of Te Arawa Whanau Ora has seen the need for this firewood and she is happy to help out.

“Some people in level 4 are unable to work or at level 3. It is a real struggle to have kai in their cupboards and to have wood to warm their houses. We are doing something for them because we are able to.”

Today the firewood distribution has been completed and tomorrow they will continue with distributing 400 food packs a day for the rest of the week.