Iwi in Taranaki are getting whānau ready for the spread of Covid-19 as local cases grow and the Omicron variant looms at the border.
There are now 33 active cases in Taranaki, with the bulk of them making up the Eltham outbreak.
Ngāruahine iwi Covid-19 response communications lead Te Aorangi Dillon said the iwi's marae would be central when Covid becomes endemic.
"We're looking at a system of popping up temporary accommodation for those whānau who can't stay in their own houses for whatever reason."
Dillon said the housing might be portacom buildings, caravans or campervans.
A bulk order of beds had already arrived.
She said whānau might choose to isolate in their own homes instead, and could change their minds if things didn't work out.
"After two weeks they might be over each other, and you've got to take these things into consideration. It's not a fairy-tale ending where everyone's gonna handle being locked up with each other."
Dillon said each marae would decide whether or not to host whānau, and that would depend on many considerations including how much land area they had.
She said each hapū needed to be realistic about their capacity.
"We don't want to be putting extra pressure on anyone who really wants to be a part of it, but when they look at it and understand the gravity of what's involved decide they can't do this: kei te pai tērā."
A caterer has been engaged to supply food, and this week isolation and kai packs have been distributed ahead of the Christmas break.
Neighbouring Ngāti Ruanui has been at the frontline of the response in Eltham, and is also preparing for when cases are widespread.
Ngāti Ruanui's Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said they are using the same caterer as Ngāruahine and that was just one example of a shared response.
"It is absolutely an Aotea movement. In the south, each iwi has different strengths and we are all combining together for collective ability."
She said at ground level the two iwi talk together each night, and the joint response extends from resources and accommodation right up to national political advocacy.
"These are whakapapa links that have worked together for years – in muru raupatu, in courts and seabed mining."
"We work together politically, we marry and socialise together, and we see that in pandemic strategy – that's the strength of unity we're all pulling on."
Ngarewa-Packer said no one really knows what is coming but they do know the communities are strong together.
"Marae, from what I'm seeing and hearing, are at different levels of understanding ... Some marae are really organised and some aren't but we all have each other's backs."
She said the Covid threat had seen many whānau decide not to travel over the holidays.
"They've got their gardens organised, they've been sharing rongoā which is really cool, they've been talking about how they're going to support each other, they've got reserves which they've been slowly putting away which we've been encouraging, some have got their oximeters, some have been learning and sharing useful YouTube videos."
In north Taranaki, there have been fewer cases but Emere Wano, the recovery manager for the iwi collective's Te Aranga, said iwi had been readying for endemic Covid.
"Under the leadership of our Māori health providers, work and planning is well underway in the areas of caring for whānau Māori with Covid and those who are self-isolating as close contacts."
She said providers needed the ability to ramp up services and support, which could include hauora and manaaki packs and potentially self-isolation facilities.
"It's important we continue to wear a face covering, especially if you can't social distance, scan everywhere you go, continue to sanitise or wash your hands, stay home if you're unwell, and most importantly get tested if you have any symptoms."
Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa chair Liana Poutu also emphasised cooperation.
"As with all previous Covid responses, we will continue to support our Māori health providers and work alongside all iwi of Taranaki to meet the needs of affected whānau.
"More than ever, we encourage whānau to plan and prepare to isolate if required. Together we are working to protect our whakapapa."
Christmas may not give any respite from the ongoing work.
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said she would be one of many on call.
"Most people I know in my circles have put themselves forward to be rostered on iwi response."
And Te Aorangi Dillon said that was the case around the mounga.
"In all iwi around Taranaki, no one slouches from hard work. We understand coming into Christmas that we might not get Christmas day – because Covid doesn't care about Christmas."