Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou to distribute food parcels to their most vulnerable – pakeke/kaumātua.
The effective move by the local iwi governing body in Tairāwhiti to protect their elders comes as more updates announced by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to urge whānau to self-isolate.
Iwi elder Kuini Moehau-Reedy is one of many pakeke who has chosen to self-isolate and plans to eat raw veggies to strengthen her tinana.
“I personally chose to eat greens in order to keep my immune system up. This is what our pakeke need.”
Ngāti Porou Hauora will also provide assistance by holding home visits to pakeke who are unable to travel or have chronic health conditions.
Flu jabs will also be a top priority to those over 65 who are facing health complications.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the country, self-isolation is a reminder for Moehau-Reedy of tough times. Especially during 1947-49 where the epidemic of Poliomyelitis known to many as ‘infantile paralysis’ had become a major outbreak.
The epidemic had spread throughout Te Ika a Māui which forced whānau to self-isolate. Moehau-Reedy's hapu Te Aitanga a Mate in Hiruharama closed their marae from tangihanga and hui.
“Those were hard times but we were taught to live off the land," Moehau-Reedy says.
Since the recent call by Te Whānau a Apanui to close their iwi borders from travellers, the northernmost hapū of Ngati Porou country Te Whanau a Tūwhakairiora is working in collaboration with them.
Hapū spokesperson Tina Ngata told Te Ao Maori News that they're working with local police to ensure drivers have been assessed before travelling into their rohe.
“We are not putting up a blockade but we do have a roadside checkpoint.
"If there is unnecessary travel, which is of course in breach of the current threat level where we're at for COVID-19, then we will be telling people exactly what that threat level means,” Ngata says.
COVID-19 testing stations are available in Te Puia Springs and Tūranganui a Kiwa. The Rūnanganui have advised whānau to check with their GP or Healthline.
This also includes their social services distributing packs of hand sanitisers and disinfectant to up to 2000 whānau throughout the region.
Moehau-Reedy is amazed by their iwi response, “This is great because they're thinking about our people,” she says.