COVID-19 update to whānau

Hai kā mana, hai kā reo, tēnā tātou katoa i raro i kā taikawa o te wā, i te hōrapa o te kārara huaketo ki te ao. Otirā, kaikinikini tou nei te aroha ki tō tātou tōtara whakahae o te wao ko hika mai rā. E Jimmy, nāia te aroha o tō iwi whānui ki a koe ko hoki atu rā ki ō mātua tīpuna. Ko te pō ki te pō, ko te ao ki te ao. E mihi ana, e maioha ana ki a koutou e te iwi.

I hope that you and your whānau are adjusting to life in your ‘bubble’ – I know that a lot of us are facing different challenges, whether it be keeping tamariki entertained, keeping on top of our workloads if we’re lucky enough to be working from home, or simply worrying about whānau members that we won’t be able to see for the next few weeks. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu want to support all of our whānau where practical through this period, and this email will update you on some of the latest developments.

Emergency Operations Centre

Our Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated following the announcement of a National State of Emergency by Civil Defence on 25 March. Following the activation, we have refined and formalised the EOC structure to ensure we can best serve Papatipu Rūnanga and whānau through this unique and evolving crisis.

Our primary objectives are to:

  • Support Papatipu Rūnanga and Ngāi Tahu whānau during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Enable Papatipu Rūnanga to coordinate and implement their response activities.
  • Coordinate and deliver appropriate resources, funding, advice and guidance to Papatipu Rūnanga and Ngāi Tahu whānau.
  • Leverage Ngāi Tahu relationships across all of Government, Civil Defence and service providers.

Essential service classification

This week Hon Peeni Henare (the Minister for Civil Defence) confirmed in writing that Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Emergency Operations Centre is classified as an essential service. He has been supportive of the overall response and acknowledged the valuable contribution the iwi makes to emergency management.

Provided stringent conditions are met, this means Papatipu Rūnanga will also be able to operate under this essential service classification, allowing them to deliver critical on-the-ground support in their rohe. This may include, for example, delivering care packages to those in need, or doing wellbeing checks on at-risk whānau. It is important to note that we are restricted to only conduct activities that are essential during the Alert Level 4 period, and will need to carefully manage the physical interactions of staff and whānau with appropriate health and safety measures (as per Worksafe).

Further information and advice for Papatipu Rūnanga will follow. 

Health and wellbeing reminder

For many of us this is a time of huge adjustment and upheaval but it is vital that we adhere to the government’s regulations, and only leave our homes to:

  • access essential services, like buying groceries, or going to a pharmacy or bank (banks are only open for a couple of hours a week)
  • go to work if you work for an essential service
  • go for a walk, or exercise and enjoy nature.

If you do leave your house for any of these reasons it’s important you maintain a two metre distance from other people at all times. You should also do your best to limit contact with those in your whare, especially if you live with kaumātua.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, which include a cough, fever, shortness of breath, sneezing or a runny nose, you should call your doctor. If you do not have a regular doctor, you can call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453. If you are in need of urgent assistance, contact emergency services (dial 111).

Papatipu Rūnanga

Our 18 Papatipu Rūnanga have been ensuring whānau, and particularly kaumātua, are supported as we adjust to our new circumstances, and we are in close contact with all of them. Eleven Papatipu Rūnanga have distributed care packages to whānau, with some sending food packs and others sending hygiene supplies. Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka has set up vaccination clinics at Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu, as well as an onsite pharmacy. In addition, all 18 rūnanga are making contact with kaumātua, some daily, to ensure they are supported.

Although we are unable to print Te Pānui Rūnaka during the lockdown period I am pleased to advise that we will instead be distributing an abridged weekly email edition of TPR. We are encouraging Papatipu Rūnanga to submit updates and this is underway already for this week’s edition. You can look forward to seeing our first email edition this Friday.

Whānau in Australia

I know this has been a time of concern for many of our whānau living in Australia, particularly those facing potential job losses. On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that New Zealanders living in Australia on 444 visas will be eligible to access $1,500AUD a fortnight. The payment is a flat rate and would also be available to part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more. Payments will begin from the first week of May but will be backdated to yesterday (30 March). Employees stood down since 1 March will be eligible.

Kaumātua calls

A team of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaimahi has been redeployed to call over 7000 of our registered kaumātua to check in and ensure they have the necessary support. As of today we have contacted over 1000 kaumātua, and calls are continuing throughout the week. It’s positive to note that of those contacted so far 89% have whānau, friends, or neighbours they can call and a relatively low 6% identified immediate concerns. 


It can be overwhelming trying to wade through the huge volume of information available online about COVID-19. Below is a useful overview of the most relevant government and health sector sources for you:

COVID-19 has all the relevant information on the changing pandemic situation.
Ministry of Health is the best destination for anyone with health concerns.
Work and Income has links to financial support packages.
Te Puni Kōkiri is providing useful resources for whānau including in te reo Māori.
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā is the National Māori Pandemic Group and provides information and resources specifically for Māori about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next steps

I will continue to provide updates on our response but in the meantime stay safe, look after yourselves whānau and remember – noho atu ki te kāinga kia ora ai te iwi, stay at home to save lives.

Noho ora mai rā koutou katoa i roto i kā manaakitaka o Te Wāhi Karo.