Ngāti Porou uri plan ahead as stores run out of hand sanitiser

By Taroi Black

Ngāti Porou whānau are taking action with rongoa Māori to support themselves as stores nationwide run out of hand sanitiser due to COVID-19.

The action aims to ensure whānau up the coast are educated and well equipped, as the third case of someone contracting COVID-19 is confirmed in Aotearoa.

The workshop, which involves creating hand sanitisers and soap, were held in the rohe of Wharekahika at Te Puna Manaaki a Ruataupare, where local families were taught how to mix plant-based ingredients from their own ngahere.  

Kaiwhakahaere Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says, “The virus hasn’t reached our shores but we’re lucky enough to plan ahead and work with exponents in plant-based rongoa.”

While stores throughout the coast, including Gisborne, are all out of stock of hand sanitiser, the plan to provide more supplies for rural communities is Te Puna Manaaki's main priority.

The sanitisers are a mixture of kawakawa, mamaku and mānuka. Whānau were even taught how to create their own soap out of plant-based ingredients. The workshop is also giving whānau the right tools to potentially create their own businesses to support their iwi.   

A group of students from Eastern Institute of Technology attended the wānanga in order to help other communities in Tairāwhiti kill germs.

EIT tutor Robin Te Waara Thompson says, “We can go back to Ruatoria to teach our whānau there and the other whānau in Tikitiki and Tokomaru Bay.” 

Te Puna Manaaki a Ruataupare is a community-based centre located 180 kilometres north of Gisborne. The organisation is focused on ensuring whānau whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus make contact with Whānau Ora, Work and Income, Eastland Wood Council and the Ministry of Social Development.

The community group also run a foodbank to help cover the hefty downturn of income for whānau who have been laid-off. Te Puna Manaaki also works towards helping local workers get back to mahi.

However, despite the government’s announcement earlier this week that they would boost the regional business partner network across NZ concerns remain. 

Pahuru-Huriwai says the objective of their service, which operates far from any urban town, is to reassure the local community they have not been ignored.

“We’ve already started giving food out because we know our whānau are already struggling.”