Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the Delta variant of Covid-19 is so contagious that iwi are unlikely to offer support services on the scale they did in the last lockdown.
All New Zealand is on a level 4 lockdown until at least Friday, after cases of the new Delta Covid strain were detected in Auckland on Tuesday.
Ngarewa-Packer, a leader of South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui, said health experts have emphasised that the very infectious Delta strain demands caution.
"That means we're not likely able to do the same stand-up of Covid response we did in the past – because it was dealing with Covid but it wasn't such a highly infectious variant as we're dealing with now.
"I think of the scale we moved before, we just need to be a little bit more careful and considerate of what this means."
She said people keen to help others should consider using phone or internet services for things like grocery delivery for whānau or neighbours needing assistance.
Ngārewa-Packer said anti-lockdown protests in Auckland, Tauranga and Nelson were frustrating and selfish, putting frontline workers at needless risk.
"It's actually bloody selfish … it's senseless to a small nation with an overstretched health system already.
"It makes me really hōhā because I can see all the whānau related and connected to us who will have treatments and procedures put on hold because of the rush on the services by Covid – why temp it, why go out and protest about the lockdown?"
She said any objectors should protest online and everyone should follow the lockdown rules to contain the dangerous variant.
"We've seen for the last week that this Delta variant is a tricky little bugger. It's gotten out of control in Australia – and I think it's really important that we take heed and look at what's been happening to our whanaunga, to our tangata moemoea over there."
She said it's important to stay home as much as possible.
"Be calm, don't rush to the grocery store, go and get your puha, go and do what you need to do to stay warm and safe – it's not a dummy run, let's do what we do as whānau and look after each other and get through this."