'Shop normally, there's plenty of kai', Northland supermarket owner Eric Rush says

By Te Ao - Māori News

In Northland, the warning of a pandemic is becoming real following the confirmation this week of the first Northlander to have the COVID-19 virus. 

A popular venue on Satuday mornings, warnings of a pandemic now line the entrances to the Whangārei markets.

"The great thing here at home is that we still have our lands to grow food.  So it’s not as though there's a food shortage because there’s plenty of food available.  The big problem is the over-demand for food.  I think people need to settle down and compose themselves," Aperahama Edwards, of Ngāti Wai, says.

They are the exact same sentiments of the owner of the New World Kaikohe and Whangārei supermarkets.

"She’s been pretty crazy the last 3 to 4 days, and it's not a supply problem, it's a demand problem.  I think everyone is sort of panicking a little bit, but there's plenty of kai and plenty of toilet paper.  I think if everybody shopped normally there’d be no issues whatsoever. I think the media has got a hold of things and people have panicked a little bit, so I think if everyone calms down we’ll be all good," New World' supermarket owner Eric Rush says.

"It's gone a bit silly, before 9 o’clock this morning there were people all lined up outside PAK'nSAVE looking scared.  I could see it in their faces and I felt sorry for the elderly.  We need to take good care of our elders by checking on them to ensure they are provided for," Edwards says.

A decision to postpone the upcoming Taitokerau regional kapa haka competition was made public yesterday.

"We decided to postpone the event for the benefit of the health of the people of Northland, and especially for the health of our elders.  We are well aware that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better," Ropata Diamond, of Waitangi Cultural Society Incorporated, says.

Dr Shane Reti,  MP for Whangārei, says, "We need to remember if we look back a century, the biggest thing that saved people's lives in the past century was public health.  It wasn’t antibiotics or flash medical devices, it was the simple things, clean water and sanitation.  Well, it's the same here today with COVID-19.  It's washing your hands, it's hand over mouth, it's coughing into the elbow, it's having that social distances.  Those are the things that will get us through this."

Despite the 13 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand in the past twenty-four hours, the situation in Northland remains at one case.

"I suspect we’re yet to feel the full brunt of this.  In due course, we’ll see its effect on our economy but with regard to the pandemic that’s coming our way all we can do is be ready," Edwards says.

Report by Dean Nathan for Te Ao Māori News.