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Māori Public Health Echo Calls For Strong Māori And Community Led Responses To COVID-19

Hāpai te Hauora is once again calling for the Government to honor its Tiriti Partnership, and echoes calls for strong Māori leadership to spearhead response to second wave of COVID-19, as Aucklander’s brace for 12 more days at Level 3, whilst the country navigates the second wave of COVID-19 community transmission.

Interim CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Jason Alexander says "In times of uncertainty, our whānau and communities are looking for reliable and trusted sources of information and advice, and those trusted sources are the ones who are out there on the frontline every day, showing up for their communities when it matters". Alexander believes that the recent announcement is a positive first step towards well-resourced community responses. "We would hope that with the recent distribution of 1.6million masks to social sector groups for example, that iwi & Whānau Ora were resourced appropriately, in order to reach those whānau who aren’t engaged in other social services."

Hāpai te Hauora is working to ensure communities are receiving most relevant, up to date and culturally appropriate information, particularly regarding the Covid-19 restrictions and regulations, but they also recognise the need for a collective whole-of-system approach to combating the virus in Māori communities.

"Māori have the systems and the connection to their people that can enable swift action in times of crisis, we have seen it before and we will see it again". Alexander continues "Our Māori communities, hapū & iwi, not only in Auckland but across the country, know how to best respond to the needs, limitations and opportunities within their own community - They are the leadership that we need at this time. It’s up to the Government to recognise this, and to support & resource them effectively to do so".

Jessikha Leatham-Vlasic, Kaiwhakahaere for Māori Public Health at Hāpai Te Hauora says that the second wave of COVID-19 will be very different to the first wave. "Yes, we have done this before, and yes, we can do it again. We know what to expect, and that is comforting for some. But our Māori and Pasifika whānau are highly integrated and highly collectivised communities, and the spread of COVID has huge impacts".

Leatham-Vlasic continues "It’s a tough time for whānau, with some facing significant life changes, job loss or reduction, social isolation juggling full-time employment alongside childcare - an increase in alert levels can almost certainly correlate with an increase in psychosocial stressors, heightened stress and anxiety within whānau, and we have to remember that much of these stressors actually pre-existed COVID-19".

Hāpai te Hauora says that this is a second chance to ensure that Māori and Pasifika whānau are not further impacted by inequities, and that the next 12 days are an opportunity to embed some of the learnings from the first lock-down.

Says Leatham-Vlasic "Our message is clear ‘Tātaihonotia te tāngata ki te atawhai - keeping people connected through care’ - and at the moment, staying connected means a staunch Māori Public health response - care looks like strong Māori leadership, well-resourced communities and an extremely responsive Government".

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as cold or flu symptoms, contact Healthline ( 0800 358 5453) or your doctor to find out if you need a test.

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