Welfare centres have provided thousands of care packages to support people during the past two months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since the nation went into alert level 4 lockdown at the end of March there have been two welfare centres operating in the Whanganui District.

One has been run by the multi-agency Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) headed by welfare manager Lauren Tamehana and the other centre was led by Te Ranga Tupua iwi chairs.

The EOC centre has received 534 requests for support through the welfare support line and of those, 300 were requests for food parcels.

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With the EOC now closed, Tamehana said its support phoneline would have an automated message directing people depending on what their support needs.

In the Whanganui District, food requests will go through to the City Mission Food Bank.

Tamehana said they were still working out how welfare needs would be managed in the Rangitikei and Ruapehu district.

Te Oranganui chief executive Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata said the Te Ranga Tupua welfare centre had given away more than 3000 care packs.

"We have supported these communities with things like helping people with their pharmacy scripts and a number have indicated a range of issues such as housing employment, financial support through MSD."

She said the centre had been a collaboration of all iwi part of Te Ranga Tupua collective.

Te Oranganui chief executive Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata is proud of the welfare support iwi and services have collectively given their communities during the pandemic. Photo / Bevan Conley
Te Oranganui chief executive Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata is proud of the welfare support iwi and services have collectively given their communities during the pandemic. Photo / Bevan Conley

It had been this communication between the centre and the wider iwi community and other services that had been vital.

The centre is still in operation but Te Runga Tupua iwi chairs will meet at the end of the week to review how operations will continue.

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"In a way, we are moving to a level of normality, which may mean that we no longer need the iwi hub in the way it's operated, but what concerns us, is now we're in this for the long term," Walsh-Tapiata said.

"What we're starting to notice is a new group of whānau, primarily those who have been impacted financially, or in terms of employment over this Covid period and who are ringing our 0800 number, who in many ways have never required health or social services before."

She said its response may need to change from a health or kai and hygiene response to begin to look at employment and how they can better support people in that way.

"We know at the very least we will continue to operate our 0800 number and we want to hear from whānau who are still feeling the impact of this moving forward."

To contact the EOC emergency management welfare team call 06 349 0001.
To contact Te Ranga Tupua Response Hub, call 0800 202 004.