Marae in Auckland close their gates

By D'Angelo Martin

Five Auckland based marae have now temporarily shut its doors in response to the pandemic. Māori authorities and iwi representatives have started to swing into action to co-ordinate assistance and alternatives to minimise the impacts of COVID-19. 

Te Tira Hou, and now Manurewa Marae alongside Te Puea, Ruapotaka and Ōrakei Marae have all followed suit, in response to COVID-19. 

"It was a decision made by the Tāmaki Marae executive committee to begin self-isolation of Marae and to postpone up and coming events that were due to be held at these Marae," Manurewa Chairperson Rangi McLean says.

McLean says it was for the safety of the people, and to start the discussion on how the Māori community will be handling the pandemic. The decision to action plan the closure of Marae here in Auckland was made last night, and it seems that they're not alone with how they're dealing with the situation.

"There have been various announcements made by the Government, the Prime Minister, health organizations and councils.

"But although that's the case, we weren't going to wait around for direction as we already know what needs to be done."

Manurewa Marae and all its programs and wānanga and other activities operated in this space have been postponed until further notice. The Marae will reopen on the 1st of April where their committee will reassess the situation.

Iwi Leaders Group for Climate Change are now in the early phases of providing assistance and resources to Māori communities

Mike Smith, Chairperson of the Iwi Leaders Group for Climate Change says, "Each iwi is working with their local health providers to develop a plan for testing and care for those who become ill in the next couple of months." 

Smith goes on to clarify that, "Māori communities can give alleviation and compelling authority in troublesome circumstances, by preparing volunteers and talented wellbeing experts, making a few Marae accessible within the occasion of crises."

"It isn't only up to the health sector to minimise the concerns and the impact of this deadly virus. 

"But iwi should also look towards those within the community, that can also lend a helping hand.

"The discussion on what this looks like has started." Hinekaa Mako from the Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group says.

While customary practices are on hold for now, Marae are taking a risk-averse approach for the betterment of the wider community.