Ngātiwai calls for more resource for Covid-19 Northland testing

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Ngātiwai Trust Board has raised urgent concerns with the Northland District Health Board and government officials about what it says are inadequate numbers of community-based testing centres available in the Whangarei – Kaipara region.

Ngātiwai Trust Board chairman, Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards says, “We have had a number of kaumātua and whānau contact us today distressed and anxious.”

“They have said that they are arriving at the testing centres only to find huge queues and wait times of three hours or more. They are sitting in their cars in near 30 degrees heat, getting hot, thirsty and distressed.”

“At both of the community based testing centres here in Whangarei and Kamo, whānau are telling us the wait times are horrendous.

Not enough staff

“We are encouraging our whānau who are feeling unwell, showing symptoms or have been to one of the locations identified as visited by this person, to go get tested. However, when attending a testing station, there are not enough staff to cope with the increased demand.”

“We have conveyed to our whānau that testing is also available at their local GP practice. We ask for health officials to provide clear communications to our iwi and community on the testing options available locally.”

The Ngātiwai rohe is heavily populated during the summer months, with some areas doubling in population during this time. This will be contributing to the testing stations being under heavy strain and should be considered in how many testing centres are made available.

“We are calling on the government and the Northland District Health Board to move urgently and provide more resource into testing,” Kerepeti-Edwards says.

"We acknowledge the nurses and those working the front line at these testing centres. We know how hard they are working and the strain they too are under. We simply ask that they are better assisted to complete the huge task ahead of them. We also remind our whānau and the wider community to be mindful of the staff and to be kind to one another.

Keep safe and calm

“If you or one of your whānau feel unwell you must stay home, contact your GP and get tested. Keep your whānau and friends safe by washing your hands, staying home until tested and to track your movements using the COVID tracer app with your Bluetooth on.

“Please remain calm as we await for more information, but stay vigilant and ensure we do all the things we know and should be doing to keep ourselves and our whānau safe.”