Government/DHBs disconnect needs to be addressed - Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

By Jessica Tyson

While the majority of Covid-19 community transmitted cases are in Auckland there is uncertainty and confusion among whānau in the regions.

Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui chief executive (and Māori Party co-leader)  Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says information being given to the public by district health boards has sometimes been different from advice from the government, causing confusion.

An example was when a family contacted Ngarewa-Packer about how its members wanted to get tested late last week but they were turned away by their local district health board.

“We have a situation where someone’s flatmate, whose test has come out positive, has been told by Healthline to go get tested at their local district health board and the board has turned them away because they didn’t meet itscriteria.”

Ngarewa-Packer says this showed a disconnect between Healthline and the district health board, creating angst for the whānau of eight.

“They’ve got three generations in this household. So there’s a disconnect coming down from the officials into the regions,” she says.

Assurance needed

Ngarewa-Packer did not name the district health board or where the whānau lives but has reached out to leadership at the board.

“What we would like is assurance that actually the central decision being made by government and bureaucracy are being lined up with what’s happening in the regions,” she says.

“To prepare for the worst, we need as much information and again as much assurance as possible.”

Another concern for the Taranaki iwi is inter-regional transmission, which is being monitored with support from a mayoral forum, Ngārewa Packer says.

“Our first call from Taranaki had been to call on the government to keep our borders closed, to put in some regional bubbles so we can practice level four but live level two. There has been a lot of calls here to give us some confidence that inter-regional travel has been and is being monitored and that comes from a basis of data.”

Ngarewa-Packer acknowledged the government was doing its best in response to the pandemic, but she called for better assurance, information and resourcing for people in the regions.