A Rotorua iwi has received an overwhelming response to an informal call for new contact tracers to help the under pressure national system.
More than 600 frontline contact tracers are based in call centres nationwide and a Ministry of Health spokesperson said it was looking to double that number, as case numbers in the Delta outbreak continue to grow.
Tech company Datacom's contracted providers had been brought in to provide more contact tracers on behalf of the Ministry's National Investigation and Tracing Centre, the ministry said.
However, more are needed.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman and Bay of Plenty regional councillor Te Taru White put out a message on Facebook calling for iwi applicants for Datacom's contact tracing call system.
The post received more than 700 responses.
White said the post was "not our normal way of doing things" but he saw Datacom's need as an opportunity for employment as well as a chance to help with the Covid-19 contact tracing efforts.
"We're doing some work with Datacom and to get some of our people into employment," White said.
"There are a lot of people out of work at the moment. These are just temporary roles but it's work. It's a job. It's getting money in for the families. At this time families could do with money."
White said Te Tatau o Te Arawa circulated the work opportunity locally to reach more people. It was not sent out on behalf of Datacom or the Ministry of Health.
""What [the response] has revealed to me is there's a sense of pain and anxiety that's out there."
"Everybody's trying to put the shoulder to the wheel.
"You can see that people do want to help in the Covid situation but also want employment. This will be good for their CVs."
Successful applicants would be linked into a service centre under Datacom.
"This is basically about supporting people in the community, to share information in a consistent and resilient way," White said.
The Facebook post called for expressions of interest in contact tracing roles, offering pay rates of $28 per hour and an immediate start.
White said he was working through the emails he had received and contact details would be forwarded to Datacom.
"There is a vetting process happening. It is clearly one where we ask, 'Do you come with experience and do you have a clean record?'"
White was emailing interested workers this week about what to expect next.
He said he understood there may be frustrations over the delayed response and that he had "not anticipated the Facebook effect".
He said people may receive a call from Datacom but anyone who did not should "please accept this as your final notification".
"I am working with others on a longer-term relationship with Datacom. This was seen as a step towards that initiative to create longer-term resilient opportunities for our people and community."
White said many responses he had received expressed an interest in helping strengthen the country's Covid-19 response.
"Is our bubble bursting? We hope not. I believe in the team of five million."
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said 35 people were beginning training to add to the pool of contact tracers available to the Ministry of Health.
"The more contact tracers we have out there the better."
Morrison said the Te Arawa hub had offered to help with contact tracing efforts in August last year.
"The process includes undergoing specialist training and all the accreditation is done through our Rotorua Lakes DHB representatives and Toi Te Ora Public Health."
Morrison commended the work of the Ministry of Health and said everyone was doing their part to see "how we best respond to the needs in front of us."