Iwi Collective urge Level 2 vigilance, oppose tangihanga restrictions

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Te Ranga Tupua Iwi Collective formed from iwi of the Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, South Taranaki and wider Whanganui Region is stressing that a move to Emergency Alert Level 2 from Thursday will require even greater vigilance of the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

Te Ranga Tupua spokesperson Gerrard Albert says, “With lockdown effectively lifted, our people must each become a personal checkpoint for preventing the infiltration of Covid-19. Personal responsibility is now the only thing standing between our whānau, hapū and iwi and Covid-19.”

“By continuing to limit access to kaumātua and the Health-compromised, by maintaining high standards of personal hygiene, by keeping track of who we’ve interacted with and by getting tested regularly, we can continue to keep COVID-19 at bay.”

Prior to the Government’s decision to lock the country down, Te Ranga Tupua mobilised to support the needs of their people and community at large. As the country shifts down through alert levels Te Ranga Tupua continues to encourage everyone to maintain a Level 4 mentality until a vaccine is available.

Meanwhile, Te Ranga Tupua has expressed confidence in hapū and marae for hosting tangihanga under Alert Level 2, where whānau and hapū are willing to resume that practice. The collective has expressed dismay at the Government’s decision to continue to restrict attendees at tangihanga to 10 people for two more weeks, while indoor businesses can cater for up to 100 people a week into Alert Level 2.

“Café, bars will be able to open from next week to accommodate up to 100 people and the same number will be able to go and watch a movie at the theatre. Yet the Government mistrusts that iwi Māori are capable of managing our practices, particularly at our marae, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

 “There is no reason that iwi and hapū plans for managing tangihanga in line with social distancing rules can’t be immediately validated by the Government for more than 10 people. If there is one place that strict protocol applies to the management of people, it is at our marae and when dealing with a bereavement”, says Albert.

Te Ranga Tupua has written directly to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden requesting this situation be rectified with urgency.