The wider Horowhenua community is being urged to consider its elderly as unprecedented lockdown measures due to Covid-19 threaten to isolate our most vulnerable.

Horowhenua has one of the oldest populations in New Zealand with almost 25 per cent aged 65 or older.

With Level 4 of the Government's response to the threat requiring people not involved with essential services to stay home, it is important that those most vulnerable had access to the essentials.

Horowhenua Grey Power President Terry Hemmingsen said there was genuine concern among the elderly that they would continue to have access to vital things like food and medicine.

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Grey Power was working with other agencies to ensure that nobody went without the essentials.

Hemmingsen also said it was important that people maintain regular communication with their elderly relatives or neighbours, albeit over the phone, or at a distance over the fence.

There was one example where he had taken a call from a woman from Wellington, concerned for her elderly mother who lived alone in Levin.

With regional boundaries expected to be observed, she was putting in place plans for online shopping with a supermarket to ensure her mother had access to groceries.

"Many elderly don't have internet connectivity," he said.

Hemmingsen was trying to work through and mobilise a system where a shopping list could be left in a letter box, and a provider or community volunteer could then do the shopping before leaving it at the back door.

Unichem Pharmacy is to continue their home delivery of medicines between Monday and Friday. The service is free for anyone aged more than 70.

Tararua Pharmacy on Queen Street is hoping to offer a home delivery service for elderly patrons from next week.

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Levin New World is struggling to keep up with online delivery orders, which are expected to take more than a week.

Tracey Robinson from Te Waiora Community Health Centre in Foxton said they had mobilised quickly with a hui on Zoom early last week and had a list of names, addresses and phone numbers of kaumātua.

Te Waiora had worked with the Māori Women's Welfare League to develop the comprehensive register and already had delivered more than 250 "kaumātua packs" that contained essential items like food, soap, water, gloves - even coloured pencils.

The packs were delivered to the doorstep without any human contact.

Robinson said there were four key messages to circulate, too: Have you travelled recently? Have you been in contact with anyone who has? Are you experiencing flu-like symptoms? Have you been in contact with anyone who has?

Te Waiora is to cease all non-essential community consultations, but would continue to operate for essential needs like blood tests and flu vaccinations, and people aged 65 or older or with respiratory conditions would be given priority.

Foxton woman Annie Watson, who recently helped organise the inaugural Kaumātua Ball in Foxton last month, said she was encouraging people to keep communicating by telephone.

"You don't have to see them. As long as you can hear their voices. That is the most important thing," she said.

"I've said to whānau please keep in touch with your kaumātua. We are still here."

Watson, who suffers from heart failure herself, volunteered to help but had to be reminded to stay put, for now.

"Even I've got to stay at home," she said.

Countdown and New World offer online shopping and home deliveries, but they are facing a backlog right now, so do not wait before ordering.

Brown Acres Market in Manakau (Ph 362 6029) also does home deliveries to Manakau, Ōtaki, Ōtaki Beach three times a week and Te Horo on Fridays. Paul's Meats on Oxford Street (Ph 3685999) in Levin also delivers around town and to Waitarere Beach.

The Horowhenua Chronicle would like to hear from any other local businesses offering home deliveries, especially for residents over 65.

Hemmingsen was keen to list phone numbers of any senior members of the community who wanted to contact them:

Horowhenua Grey Power
President: Terry Hemmingsen: 367-0300, or 0274-805-834
Secretary: Maureen Mackie: 368-0963, or 021-265-9833
Membership: Gary Benton: 368-7350, or 0274-502-618