Northland Civil Defence has set up a new emergency helpline to assist Northlanders in hardship needing essentials such as food and medication during Covid-19 lockdown.

Graeme MacDonald Northland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group controller, said it had been set up for people who urgently needed help accessing essentials such as food and medication and had without success tried all other options - such as friends, family, neighbours or volunteers within their neighbourhoods - to do so.

The line was for those facing hardship and was offered in addition to a range of alternative support measures provided by other agencies, particularly the Ministry of Social Development.

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Northlanders who urgently need assistance with access to essentials such as food and medication can now phone 0800 790 791. The number is open between 7am-7pm daily and can be found on the Northland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group (Northland CDEM) website

Northlanders should still go to the Government's official website for general help and advice available from a range of Government departments.

MacDonald said Northland CDEM Group would be linking affected people with existing providers and agencies in the first instance and then providing a service where no other option existed.

He said the new 0800 number did not replace any existing numbers for Covid-19 health advice, financial support, temporary accommodation or any of the other sources of assistance already available.

Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) director Sarah Stuart-Black said each of New Zealand's 18 Civil Defence and Emergency Management groups is setting up local 0800 numbers for this purpose. Stuart-Black said the civil defence groups would also be in touch with local food banks to replenish food stocks if required.

MacDonald said Northland CDEM Group was in contact with local food banks. It was at the initial stages of understanding their requirements.

Northland CDEM Group has set up an emergency coordination centre at its regional council Water St base from where it helms the North's component of the national civil defence response. A core of response staff, among about 25 people regionally, works out of this ECC on a day-to-day basis.

MacDonald said Northland CDEM's Covid-19 response role was to co-ordinate and manage the emergency's 'non-health' consequences while Northland District Health Board, led by the Ministry of Health, managed the response's health aspects.

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