Long-term financial insecurity a concern for whānau in South Island in lockdown

By Jessica Tyson

Māori whānau living in the South Island are experiencing anxiety about their longer-term financial insecurity due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

This is according to a survey launched by the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, investigating how well-equipped whānau are to stay at home for extended periods.

Preliminary results show the majority are prepared to manage their short-term needs but have increasing anxiety about their longer-term financial insecurity.

Responses included, “We are already over-crowded but my main concern is food for my family while in isolation. With so many of us home and our kids all off school, food is my biggest worry for us.”

Another respondent said, “I can’t get through to Work and Income as the lines are down and I’ve already completely over maxed out on my advances. I’m struggling to figure out what to do.”

At least 338 households have completed the survey since it was launched, capturing the readiness of 1629 whānau members from a cross-section of iwi, says Te Pūtahitanga Chief Executive Helen Leahy.

“The preliminary responses show that most whānau have what they need to get through in the short term but the longer the pandemic lasts the more important it will become for whānau to rally around and support each other. That is the main thrust of our work through the #Manaaki20 campaign.

“We know there is increasing intensity around food security, income, power and sanitation products. The reality is that pre-existing challenges will be intensified by COVID-19."

Support for whānau

Te Pūtahitanga is keen to be working alongside the nine iwi of Te Waipounamu to ensure whānau receive the support they need. The focus is to support whānau through a network of whānau navigators, by either facilitating people to the supports already available or tailoring specific solutions to assist whānau.

“We have set up the Manaaki20 website to encourage whānau to share online what they’re doing to support each other through using the #Manaaki20 hashtag, she says.

“It’s all about sharing the moments of motivation that help whānau to connect and uplift spirits during this challenging time.”

Leahy says that they are also hearing some heart-warming stories of whānau who are doing amazing things, like the young mums in Picton who are making extra meals to be distributed to those in need; the whānau in South Dunedin who set aside their whare for whānau to have a place for self-isolation; or the proposal from Nelson for a ‘Van-Bank’ to distribute basic necessities to whānau in need – toilet paper, sanitary products, soap, food.

“Time and time again, whānau have supported each other in tough times. It’s the things whānau already do so well, like looking out for each other and giving our time, that will get us through COVID-19.”

To find more support, whānau in Te Waipounamu can visit Manaaki20.