Hooked up to a dialysis machine for up to nine hours a day didn't stop Janine Davis from providing a crucial role in the Covid-19 response for Māori in Kāpiti.

Part of Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust and Hora Te Pai Health Service's pandemic response team, Janine was part of a combined effort to support iwi from Waikanae to Paekākāriki.

Receiving dialysis after being diagnosed with kidney disease in November 2018, the lockdown provided a silver lining for Janine - she could work from home while receiving dialysis treatment at the same time.

With treatment sometimes taking up to nine hours, this meant Janine no longer had to stay up until the early hours of the morning for treatment.

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Janine Davis with some of her mokopuna (grandchildren).
Janine Davis with some of her mokopuna (grandchildren).

Normally having four generations living together in their Paraparaumu Beach home, Janine's daughter and grandchildren moved out for lockdown leaving her bubble to included just her mother and a whānau member who supported them by doing their shopping and supporting around the house when needed.

With her communications role crucial in letting her people know what support they could access, being able to receive treatment at home was especially important as her part-time hours increased substantially over lockdown to provide in-depth weekly reports and daily messaging to iwi online and through social media.

Around 3000 Māori live in the Te Ātiawa iwi boundary from Waikanae to Paekākāriki and more than half of them are registered with the Paraparaumu based Hora Te Pai Health Service.

Janine was responsible for developing a communication strategy for the pandemic utilising the iwi strategic plan, Tuia te Kawe and working with a core team of five people to provide the immediate response to whānau.

"It just wasn't an option for my mauiuitanga (illness) to stop me working for my iwi."

Although lockdown did have "its moments" Janine is grateful she can work for an organisation she wholeheartedly believes in.

"It is an honour to do this work as I am part of the vulnerable whānau that had to bunker down early.

"The trust enabled me to work from home to focus on my health and our work plan.

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"A life on dialysis is similar to being in lockdown anyway, so to see the nation committing to keeping vulnerable whānau and kaumātua safe was heart-warming and I'm extremely grateful.

"The best thing was being able to dialysis during the day while working, rather than staying up to 2am to do it."

Lockdown also enabled Janine and her whānau time - time to communicate with each other, time to reassess our lives and ponder what is valuable and time to be creative, she said.

"The hardest part was missing the little people in my life and not being able to cuddle and smooch them."

With 13 mokopuna (grandchildren), it is for this reason Janine has found the courage to pursue a kidney transplant looking into organ donation with whānau and through donor waiting lists in order to be healthier to support her family.

"I love how our people are, I'm so proud to be Māori, but I would dearly like to feel normal again as our people deserve the best."

Together the combined iwi and health service funded in part through Te Puni Kōkiri, provided support throughout lockdown ranging from practical help to community liaison and guidance guided by tikanga using themes of manaakitanga (helping others), kotahitanga (staying safe as a whānau) and whanaungatanga (drawing on each other's strengths).

The support provided has included deliveries of firewood to vulnerable whānau, vegetable boxes and kai packages, hygiene packs, fish and chips dinners, and rongoa packs (Māori medicine) for support workers along with liaising directly with doctors on assessments of their kaumatua and most vulnerable whānau.

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