A collective of iwi is urging Māori to take their whānau for Covid jabs without delay.
The Te Ranga Tupua collective of Ngā Rauru, Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, Mōkai Pātea and Whanganui, which mobilised during last year's outbreak, has been re-activated to help support local Māori through the latest outbreak.
Spokesman Pahia Turia, who is chair of Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, says vaccination uptake among Māori has been poor to date, but the rapid spread of the Delta variant through community transmission has heightened awareness of the need to get vaccinated.
"As Te Ranga Tupua, the iwi collective, we're definitely encouraging our people to take their whānau in to get the immunisation.
"A number of clinics are being run throughout our rohe: Raetihi, Ohakune, O Taihape, down through Rangitīkei, Marton, and also through Whanganui and up to Waverley – and the uptake that we're seeing at this point in time has been really, really positive.
"I think our people are starting to realise this is serious and we need to be immunising our whānau. I do encourage our whānau to get out there, take the lead, and lead by example."
The collective has reinstated its Iwi Response Hub and 0800 helpline to provide lockdown support for whānau but the service has been plagued by prank calls.
Turia says the Iwi Response Hub has been set up to work differently from last year when it provided hygiene care and kai packages. Kai will now be provided by the food bank and through the Ministry of Social Development, he said.
"The focus is now on advocating for whānau. Part of this work is actively communicating with our iwi entities and ensuring that important information is provided to our community to help them navigate this time. We know that the current arrangement can cause stress and for some whānau things can be really difficult.
"Alongside the co-ordination and/or promotion of vaccination clinics, testing information and general safety messaging, we have once again put in place an 0800 number for whānau to call if they need extra support – and it is essential to keep the 0800 line open for whānau in need.
"Our primary role is to advocate for our whānau who have been confronted with some challenging issues as a result of being in lockdown. We're trying to work alongside key agencies to ensure that they're able to provide appropriate responses for our whānau and our community in need.
"However, we've experienced a number of prank calls and calls for things like ambulances and police. Unfortunately prank calls mean that our kaimahi, who are already working extremely hard in a tough situation, need to spend time dealing with these things rather than being able to get in and do what needs to be done to help people that really need it.
"I do please ask our whānau and other members of the community to just be considerate and mindful of the fact that we've got many whānau out there who do have real needs.
"If you want fun, play a board game or go out and mow the lawn."
The Te Ranga Tupua helpline number is 0800 52 54 56. Operators are on hand Monday to Friday from 8am to 10pm to help callers get the support they need for their situation by linking them up with existing services that provide mental health support, kai and health services.
Te Ranga Tupua is asking the community to assist in supporting the most vulnerable by leaving the line free for those who need support. In an emergency, please call 111.