A helpline service has been established for Waikato people struggling to get food, groceries, medication or other household goods and services.

The freephone service established by the Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group is available from 7am - 7pm daily, but does not replace other government helplines already in operation.

The number is 0800 800 405.

"We've moved quickly to set up this helpline, which started operating today. We don't know how big the need is right now, and the reality is that it's likely to change while we're under alert level four," says Waikato Region Civil Defence Group Controller, Julian Snowball.


"People who don't need help right now may require assistance in a couple of weeks, and that's where this freephone number will become more important when it comes to ensuring everyone has access to the basic necessities."

Call centre staff will collect information which will enable local welfare teams to prioritise the needs of individuals and whānau during the self-isolation period, and then coordinate the necessary support.

These measures will particularly assist the disabled, at risk groups, and people without access to their own transport.

These services are intended for those facing hardship and are offered in addition to a range of other support measures provided by other agencies, particularly the Ministry of Social Development.

"There is already some extraordinary work being done by community support services, and we recognise that not everybody who requires help might be getting it," says Julian.

"This will help to plug a gap to deliver support to those who need it most."