Te Arawa has formed a new hub to provide whānau across Rotorua and the wider region with the resources and support needed during the lockdown period.
The Te Arawa Hub is made up of more than 20 hapū, health providers and trusts including Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Te Arawa Whānau Ora, Lakes DHB, Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Puni Kōkiri.
The team will provide services such as the development and distribution of hygiene packs, support to apply for funding, securing kai parcels and the distribution of accurate information that has been specifically created for whānau in Te Arawa.
This week Te Arawa Whānau Ora has prepared more than 2000 hygiene packs for whānau, comprising of items running out in stores such as cleaning products.
On Wednesday packages were sent out to kaumātua and vulnerable whānau across the Bay of Plenty. A total of 10,000 Whānau Ora care packages have been distributed this week alone.
Te Arawa Whānau Ora provides hygiene packages for whānau in need.
Members of the iwi are also conducting research and have produced a comprehensive mapping project outlining where people of different ages and needs are living throughout the region.
Te Arawa kaumātua Tā Toby Curtis says this is the first time the iwi has come together in a coordinated and comprehensive way to help whānau through the challenges of COVID-19.
“In times of trouble, people have many questions and they turn to those they trust for answers, help and support. Anō ko te marama kua ngaro, kua ara anō. This is about helping our people rise through adversity,” Tā Toby says.
“We have faced serious troubles and overcome adversity in the past, and no doubt we will again.
"But this current situation will likely be the most serious in living memory for many of our people – and it is significantly impacting large numbers of whānau as a result.”
Tā Toby says Rotorua has been hit particularly hard by the economic impact of the virus and its necessary response, with many whānau losing employment in the tourism and forestry sectors.
“It’s critical that we support all of our whānau during this time. As Te Arawa we are famous for our manaakitanga, but now we need to demonstrate our care for each other in a different way.
“We have been called upon to look after our kaumātua, whānau who are māuiui or hapū, and other people who may be vulnerable.
“It is not natural or normal for our people to be isolated from one another, or to be prevented from showing physical support or arohā.
"But this is not a natural or normal situation, and our nation-wide efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Aotearoa and our people will take an extraordinary effort from all of us.
“We have people who are worried, we have people who are struggling, and we say to them: we are here to help - lean on us, hoea te waka ki uta ra.”
To find out more about the hub visit the new website www.tearawacovid19.nz
The latest information can be found via the Te Arawa-COVID19 Facebook page. People can also connect with the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org