Ngāruahine Iwi Health prepares isolation plan

By Tamati Tiananga

Ngāruahine Iwi Health leader Te Aorangi Dillon is concerned whānau Māori who live in crowded homes will suffer most if the Delta outbreak hits the Taranaki region.     

"When and if one of our whānau contracts Covid-19, what do we do from here?" Dillon asks.

But he now has the answer to that: "We are looking at a really good plan that we can wrap around them."

On Thursday, November 11, the Ministry of Health reported six people with Covid-19 in the Taranaki town of Stratford, including one in hospital. Today there are no further cases reported in the region. Dillon says Ngāruahine Iwi Health has taken a proactive approach and created a strategy to tackle the further cases in the community affecting Māori.  

"The target is to get as many people through testing because that will indicate to us where Covid-19 is, if it is still here. Yesterday we tested 798 people," Dillon said.  

Ngāruahine has gone to great lengths to work out how best to support whānau needing to quarantine, both support with managed isolation and self-isolation at home. The Taranaki Māori health provider has also explored marae as possible Isolation facilities. 

"It's important to share ideas and discuss all options. We will act on any suggestions, there are no wrong answers when it comes to discussions. We have to put the question to our elders: Do you agree to open our marae to whānau in need or not? Some may support, and others may disagree," Dillon said.

She believes people shouldn't wait for an alert level change to make their own Covid-19 response plan. She is encouraging her people to start the conversation with whānau members now before Covid-19 spreads into Māori homes. 

Getting tested for Covid-19 

If someone tests positive for Covid-19 the Ministry of Health will discuss isolation arrangements with the person. The case will be required to isolate in a managed facility unless other suitable arrangements are approved. Ngāruahine says they can provide support from a Māori view.

"We will look to examine their property to determine what facilities are in the home. Do they have alternative toilets, do they have alternative washing areas," Dillon said.