Delivering food parcels and establishing helplines are just some ways iwi in Northland are supporting whānau during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi chairwoman Mere Mangu said kaimahi (workers/volunteers) put together 600 food packages - which are designed to last two weeks - on Monday to be distributed to whānau in Hokianga, Taumarere, Kaikohe and Mangakahia; and about 800 more will be put together tomorrow.

"I personally have had feedback from a whānau in Waikare who have received it and are really thankful for it," she said.

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Mangu said Ngāti Wai were looking after whānau from Hikurangi south; Whangaroa were taking care of Ngāpuhi on the east coast; Te Rarawa had whānau on the west coast covered; and Ngāti Whatua, Waipareira, and Tainui were looking after Ngāpuhi in Auckland.

"We're all mahi tahi (working together). It's a really exciting space," she said.

Kai ready to go out to whānau. Photo / Supplied
Kai ready to go out to whānau. Photo / Supplied

Mangu said the distribution point is run by Arama Prime. On the packing days the truck driver unloads his own truck and leaves the groceries at the door, kaimahi then bring everything inside and put the food into packs for the various takiwā (areas) to take away to another location - like a marae - where it is then distributed to whānau.

She said whānau also wear PPE gear, which arrived on Monday.

"Our aim is to keep people staying home or staying within their bubble. That's the real idea behind us having selected that trustees only nominate one person and they bring whoever is in their bubble in to pick up from the distribution point ... That's how we're keeping whānau safe all along the way," she said.

Mangu said a helpline - 0800 Ngapuhi - had also been set up for whānau.

"It's been busy with people wanting to know who and where things are happening and just calling in for awhi for kai packs, that's been the biggest. Calling for a whānaunga down the road, or a solo mum with three kids and they can't get in to do the shopping."

Meanwhile, Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri - who were delivering hampers to kaumatua and kuia even before the lockdown was announced - have continued to support Far North whānau.


On Wednesday last week, information packs containing an orange ribbon were delivered to whānau. The ribbon is so people who are in self isolation, have a pre-existing conditions, or are over the age of 65, can tie it around their mailbox. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website