COVID-19, Kaiwhakahaere update

Hai te whānau whānui, kia ora mai tātou katoa i kā taumahataka e pēhi nei i a tātou. Heoti, ko te toa i a tini i a mano o te takata, nō reira nā tō rourou mahi, nā taku rourou mahi, koia ka ora te iwi.

Kia ora e te iwi,
In these unprecedented times, the health and wellbeing of our whānau members remains our top priority. The uncertainty created by the rapid spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19 will impact us all in some way – in fact, I am writing to you while self-isolated in my whare in Kaniere. I was overseas visiting my daughter when the government announced that anyone entering Aotearoa must isolate themselves for 14 days – a measure that has hopefully slowed the spread in our communities.

Measures like this might seem frustrating or inconvenient, but they are our best hope of protecting ourselves – and more importantly, protecting those amongst us who could be made seriously unwell by COVID-19. I encourage you all to take all recommendations provided by the Ministry of Health very seriously, and continue to visit the COVID-19 website for regular updates.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and our response must be able to keep up with the constantly changing state of play. We have been in close contact with our papatipu rūnanga offices, and will continue to check in regularly as the situation develops. We know that kaimahi from our papatipu rūnanga have been working hard to connect with whānau in their rohe to identify what support is required – particularly for our kaumātua and those with underlying conditions that place them at greater risk. With this in mind we have begun calling all registered kaumātua to check in on them.

In the meantime, we have aligned ourselves and are working with key government agencies including Ministry of Health, Treasury, Ministry of Social Development, and Te Puni Kōkiri to formulate our response as an iwi, so that we are prepared to provide the necessary support at the appropriate time. We are mindful of the fact that many of our whānau live in Te Ika a Māui or further afield, so we must ensure that our iwi response encompasses all of our whānau, regardless of where they live.
To support a greater level of communication we are also actioning the ‘Ngāi Tahu Emergency Operations Centre’, similar to what we established following the earthquakes. This will ensure a coordinated Te Waipounamu response, which will link widely into our communities and with our iwi partners in the north.

Government announcement

Many of you will be aware of the Government’s announcement of the four-level alert system for COVID-19, including the fact that Aotearoa is currently at level 3 and will progress to level 4 from midnight. This is a reflection of the increased risk of community transmission, and is part of the national attempt to contain the virus in this early stage. In light of this announcement, we are asking whānau to refrain from visiting our central office in Ōtautahi for the time being. Te Whare o Te Waipounamu is closed as of 5.00pm yesterday.

Health & wellbeing

As you all know, good hygiene practices are crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Simple things can really make a difference, like washing your hands thoroughly and regularly, staying home if you’re feeling unwell and keeping a physical distance between yourself and other people. Visit the COVID-19 website to learn more about what you can do.
COVID-19 poses a risk to our physical health, and it’s important that we all do our part to minimise that risk. But we must remember that a lot of the steps we’re being asked to take – staying at home, physical distancing – could have an impact on our mental health. Make sure you check in on your whānau who have been asked to work from home or self-isolate – we are lucky to have the technology that allows us to FaceTime, call or email one another every day.
If you are remaining in your whare, try to get outside for some fresh air, and keep to a routine. Now is the time to tick off all those chores you’ve been meaning to get to! Above all, reach out to your whānau or to the appropriate services if you’re feeling low.

Suggestions for tikanga

You’ve probably heard that our usual greetings amongst whānau – hongi, hugs and kisses – are not advisable given the current situation. While it feels completely wrong to keep our distance from one another, it’s also an opportunity to have a bit of fun with alternative greetings. Some sources are recommending an elbow bump or even a foot shake. Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the National Māori Pandemic Group has set up a new website with information developed by leading Māori health experts and contains excellent resources on tikanga, advice for tamariki and kaumātua, and more.

Papatipu rūnanga update

In line with the government’s announcement all 18 marae are now closed until further notice. It is inspiring to see the work that papatipu rūnanga are undertaking to care for their whānau. We will work with papatipu rūnanga to identify and support those most in need through the coming weeks.

Watch out for scammers

Email scammers and hackers are using the public interest in COVID-19 to create opportunistic online scams and attacks.
Scammers are reportedly using COVID-19-themed text messages and emails containing links to malicious software. Remember to be extra vigilant in these unusual times and be sceptical of advice that doesn’t come from official sources, particularly if it has been sent to you unexpectedly.

Stay safe and stay connected whānau, even in physical isolation. I will be providing regular updates on the evolving situation and our response. Mātua rā te ora o te tangata – the health and wellbeing of our people is our priority.

Ngā manaakitanga,