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Delta Siege Triggers New ‘Motuhake’ Māori Food Network To Respond To Kai Crisis

Taumata Kōrero, a group of Māori leaders serving 200,000 whānau with reach stretching out from Te Hana to Port Waikato has stood up a Māori Food Network as a crisis response due to the mounting pressures of the extended lockdown.

“Providing kai security and access to kai for Māori is an absolute priority of Taumata Kōrero. This Network was created as an immediate response to an immediate need that is escalating at a rapid rate across Māori communities, says Rangimarie Hunia, CE of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Maia.

She was one of the leading proponents of the Māori Food Network that have lobbied the government for support. Long term, she envisages that together members of Taumata Kōrero will focus on kai sovereignty and the Network will be able to support that.

“Each of the partners will draw on their strengths in being able to support the Network. Manukau Urban Māori Authority will be the delivery hub so we can ensure safety and security of food in these uncertain times.”

Taumata Kōrero formed in 2020 as a coordinating point for services across Auckland. Members include marae, Māori primary health providers, Whānau Ora providers, urban Māori Authorities and Māori housing providers.

“Since then, we have just got on with it. Vaccines, testing, kai, pūtea, advocacy where and when it's needed. No frills. We are an Executive level Māori decision-making forum that gets things done,” says Huri Denis, Chair of Te Puea Memorial Marae.

The impetus for the Māori Food Network comes as supermarket and dairy supply chains are facing unforeseen volatility due to the disruption of closures for deep cleans and workforce subsequent workforce shortages.

“Over the past 6 months, everyone has had an active involvement in developing solutions to support their communities against COVID-19 – the majority of our members are involved in COVID-19 testing of scale, vaccinations at scale, delivery of primary care and continue to be on the frontline providing support through food, health, housing and other areas that are critical for Māori wellbeing,” Rangimarie says.

“It’s critical in times like this when Tāmaki is under siege from Delta variant that Māori unite. Taumata Kōrero with Whānau Ora provides the vehicle for that to occur.”

The new initiative will depend on the goodwill, passion and commitment of a dedicated workforce. Māori organisations have typically redeployed their staff to be able to be on the frontline at these times.

Prominent Māori Health Provider members like Turuki Healthcare wholeheartedly support the kaupapa.

“We’ve been working together a number of months now to ensure there is equity across service provision and funding to ensure that we can get to whānau but with the resources that they need,” says Te Puea Winiata, CE Turuki Healthcare.

“Although we are not all the same, our services are very complementary – we fit together well to create an integrated system that can mobilise quickly, manage problems and find solutions for the greater good with fantastic coverage across the rohe.”

Manurewa Marae, another Taumata Kōrero member believes in the mana motuhake power of a "By Māori, For Māori with Māori" approach to collective networking and collaboration.

Radically boosting the whānau vaccination rates is top of mind for the Marae CE Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp.

She has an ‘open door’ policy for whānau needing vaccinations – a stance shared by other members including Te Whānau Waipareira and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

“We prioritise all Māori and Pacific whānau to get vaccinated. They do not require a booking. We accept "walk in's". Our kōrero is "One is better than none,"” she says.

In addition to being a significant South Auckland Distribution hub that has assessed and delivered more than 1000 kai packs to whānau this lockdown, Manurewa Marae operates a Marae Local Vaccination Centre which has vaccinated 33,000 people.

Other services include a Pop-Up Community Based Assessment Centre at the Manurewa Leisure Centre, a Primary Health Care Team at Te Manu Aute clinic where GP's continue to provide virtual support to registered patients and a Winter Wellness Clinic for urgent whānau cases who need to be seen from Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm.

An unwaivering focus on the ‘big three’ is also shared by Papakura Marae which opened its first drive-through vaccination clinic today.

“We see the need in our community. The three most important things for us right now are our foodbank, our testing station and our vaccination centre. That’s how we will support our community,” says Tony Kake, Chair of Papakura Marae.

Taumata Kōrero has met regularly with MSD Commissioners and Ministers of the Crown including Minister of Health Andrew Little, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare and Minister for Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Marama Davidson to expedite greater support.


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