A Ngāti Hine-based crisis response group has distributed more than 1500 food packs or "kete koha" (gift baskets) around Moerewa and as far away as Bream Bay since the Covid-19 crisis began.

The packs contain flour, bread, eggs, fruit, vegetables, kumara and other essentials, and are delivered to vulnerable families and the elderly. Hygiene product packs can also be requested.

As of Friday, 1535 food packs and 1386 hygiene packs had been distributed since
the weekly deliveries started on March 23, just before the alert level 4 lockdown.

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The initiative is run by Te Manawaroa o Ngāti Hine, a community response group which brings together Moerewa's He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust, Ngāti Hine Health Trust, emergency services and community representatives. The Northland Community Foundation provided a $5000 grant from its Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Coordinator Pamela-Anne Ngohe-Simon said the kete koha not only gave people essential items, they also brought hope and aroha.

"It's totally necessary for our people to feel a sense of belonging and know that we are here to help. We want to show our community that we care and value each one of them. These packs are an expression of who we are, packaged up in love that our people are able to receive."

Ngāti Hine Health Trust chief executive Geoff Milner said he was concerned about the latter weeks of the whakakōpani (lockdown) as well as the long-term effects of the Covid-19 crisis on Northland whānau.

"This will be a marathon with sprints in between. Te Manawaroa o Ngāti Hine will be looking at both the short-term needs and the long-term impacts and how best to coordinate the efforts."

He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust chairman Ngahau Davis said the project was the result of collective goodwill from many people and organisations.

"As the proverb says, Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi — With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive."

Northland Community Foundation general manager Greta Buchanan said Moerewa had battled unemployment and poverty caused by restructuring and the loss of rural services over the years. The current Covid-19 situation had made life even harder for many people in the area.


"We know our local charities and community groups need extra support during this extremely difficult time, and we'd like to help fund their services as quickly as possible," she said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website