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E9 Covid-19 News Summary for the week ending 27 March 2020

E9 Covid-19 News Summary for the week ending 27 March 2020


  • This is a news edition of Pānui, which provides a summary of recent media items of note relating to Covid-19 of high relevance to Māori communities.

Specific Māori-targeted funding to prevent Covid-19 spread

  • On Sunday Ministers Davis, Mahuta, Henare and Jackson announced a package of support for Māori communities and businesses to prevent Covid-19. Financial elements are[1]:
    • $10 million for community outreach from Vote: Māori Development;
    • $30 million via Whānau Ora Māori health services, including funding workforce needs, advice for whānau, in-home support for kaumatua (such as food parcels), a tele-health service, a Māori-led vaccination programme against influenza;
    • $1 million for needs assessments of Māori businesses (via a partnership between the Federation of Māori Businesses and New Zealand Māori Tourism);
    • $0.5 million re-prioritised within Te Arawhiti to work with iwi on their local responsiveness plans.
  • We note most of the funds being discussed above appear to be existing resources now tagged for covid-19 Māori community responses – i.e. further Whānau Ora funds were already in scope but Minister Henare has redirected it to a specific usage in preventing the spread of the virus. We also note this $40+ million is tiny in the light of a nation-wide $12 billion support package, and these Ministers rightly point out that Māori have equal access to those general funds – such as wage subsidies where needed.   But it’s not the time to quibble over such matters – the point is the Government is aware Māori require specific Covid-19 support services and is endeavouring to fund such services.

Iwi Assessment / Checkpoints Established

  • Some Māori community groups in the Far North and separately the iwi Te Whānau a Apanui on the East Coast (North Island) have established ‘checkpoints’ to assist in limiting unnecessary travel in their areas. The idea being to restrict the movement of tourists but not essential supplies.  Some media are describing these as roadblocks, but the function is as an assessment point.  Police staff have been stationed at the assessment points as well and there are no reports of any difficulties.  (Note also the assessment points in the Far North are fully supported by the region’s Mayor, John Carter).

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā – National Māori Pandemic Group

  • A new grouping of Māori medical and health experts has been established to provide advice and information to Māori communities and iwi. There are thirty experts listed within the group.   In terms of Māori health; this grouping is (in our terms) the real deal – i.e. preeminent Māori leaders.
  • The website is https://www.uruta.maori.nz/. Go to that website for personal and group advice and support – for example what to do in the event of a Tangi, advice on caring for tamariki, information for kaumatua, etc.  We are particularly pleased to see this website established given our concerns last week that many hauora providers had not yet geared up to provide information to their communities.  This is a useful and positive development for Māori.

Parliamentary Matters

  • On Wednesday a state of Civil Emergency was declared, and the Prime Minister issued an Epidemic Notice under provisions of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006. The current session of Parliament was also closed. In effect these changes gives the Government Executive (Cabinet Ministers) extensive powers to overrule items of legislation, as required, in order to best manage and mitigate the pandemic, in accordance with the Health Act 1956.  (Note a special Parliamentary Committee has also been established to keep the Executive in check during this time.)  Using these powers New Zealand is now at Covid-19 Level 4 Risk.  This means the Prime Minister now requires that:

“Everyone should stay at home.  This is the best thing we can all do to stop the spread of Covid-19.  This will save lives.”

  • Details on who can leave home and in what circumstances, and all other information on Covid-19 is provided here: https://covid19.govt.nz  We encourage you all to follow the Government’s advice as it is entirely possible for New Zealand to suffocate this virus and extinguish it from Aotearoa.

Pānui – Service Disruption

  • With Parliament closed it is likely there will be no further Māori policy developments during the shutdown period – which is to be at least four weeks. e. no Treaty settlements will be progressed, Māori land law reform is halted, etc.  Because of that Pānui is not likely to be able to continue for some weeks.  We will continue to monitor the situation and will resume our service as soon as it is useful and feasible to do so.  We thank you in advance for your tolerance at this time.
  • Last, we wish you all well during this period of uncertainty. Stay safe and let’s unite against covid-19.  He waka eke noa.

Nā, Will Workman.

[1] More specifically, Kelvin Davis is the Minister for Māori/Crown Relations, Nanaia Mahuta is the Minister for Māori Development, Peeni Henare is the Minister is Whānau Ora and Willie Jackson is the Assoicate Minister for Employment (focused on Māori).

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