Northland iwi Ngāti Hine have established a new group to lead a long-term community response to Covid-19.

Pita Tipene, chairman of the new group named Te Manawaroa o Ngāti Hine, said while the iwi had already been meeting as a community before alert level 4, Te Manawaroa was officially established on Sunday.

"There's already a hell of a lot of work that's been going on all through the community - excellent work. People have goodwill galore as the world is faced with all of the challenges of Covid-19," he said.

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Te Manawaroa o Ngāti Hine will activate an operational team to support people within Te Porowini o Ngāti Hine (south of Whangārei to the Mid North).

Ngāti Hine Health Trust will provide a central base and deploy several staff to operations.

The group will look to work alongside Ngātiwai Trust Board, Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi, local non Government organisations, Whānau Ora collectives and other community groups.

"We thought we could redeploy all of our capacity to be a hub to work with a whole lot of community groups that are already working out there, because what we know is this is going to be long-term," Tipene said.

The focus is to empower whānau, hapū and communities to provide crisis support to their own, and ongoing wellbeing support according to their own tikanga.

"We're keeping our finger on the pulse, having a strategy and having structures so we can really be responsive to both what our community needs - for instance we call families, in particular our most vulnerable.

"One of our uncles is 85 years old living in Motatau and he had completely run out of water...So we organised for a truck of water to be sent out, care of the Ministry of Social Development. If we didn't hook that kaumatua up with a government agency, nobody would have known and he would have suffered."

Key features of Te Manawaroa o Ngāti Hine's approach include a reference group with representatives from community, marae and agencies; and secondly, a supporting operations team to carry out coordination, logistics and to streamline resources and information.


Geoff Milner, chief executive of Ngāti Hine Health Trust, said the group had already seen the goodwill and innovation in communities, with care and kai packs distributed before lockdown, but it was concerned about the latter weeks of lockdown.

"We're concerned also about the long-term impacts on our whānau in the north. 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". The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website