Rise in South Island COVID-19 cases prompts action

updated By Jessica Tyson

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Southern region of New Zealand have surpassed the number of cases in Auckland. As a result iwi and Māori organisations are doing all they can to ensure whānau across the Te Waipounamu are supported.

Leading the way to support families is the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga, Helen Leahy says the organisation is working alongside all nine iwi in Te Waipounamu to ensure their need are met.

“Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has an IPU approach. 'I' for Inform, trying to find out what it is our whānau need. We do that through a call centre and through surveys.

" 'P' is for Prepare. So we're looking to see what the winter ahead is going to mean for our whānau in terms of food, hygiene, power data.

"And the third strand Uplift or manaaki, what we need to do to stay strong, to stay connected, to stay alive.”

With 108 cases, the Southern region has the highest number of COVID-19 cases than any other region in the country. Meanwhile, Canterbury has 62 cases. The region around Nelson and Marlborough has 22.

Through their online campaign, called #Manaaki, whānau in Te Waipounamu have filled in a survey to help Te Pūtahitanga identify their needs.

“At this stage, we've had around 3000 whānau contributed. What we see is that from a third of those whānau members, they were unwell in the week leading up to the lockdown so there’s an issue around health status already around compromised health.”

Other concerns are around food and power. Therefore 85 navigators have come on board to help.

“There's a number of approaches we're taking. If it's a red flag, there's no baby food, or there's medication that's missing, we act immediately. We have a triage process which looks at every survey that comes in. Sometimes they'll be referred immediately to a navigator to work alongside of them." 

With Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern requesting for more tests to do be done, Te Pūtahitanga is leading whānau in the right direction.

“We're trying to track down all the information where the community-based assessment centres are so we're promoting that information," Leahy says.

By maintaining online connections with whānau across the island, all nine iwi are sure to be looked after.