March 24, 2020, 6 a.m.
The four marae of Ngāi Takoto have established a working group to develop a plan for the haukāinga to respond to COVID-19, specifically for Māori communities. Carol Berghan, CEO of Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust says, “I have been so concerned because I can’t see agencies coming out with a plan that is targeting us as a Maori community, given our health statistics”
Māori have high rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and endocrine/nutritional/metabolic diseases such as diabetes, which puts Māori at an increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Carol Berghan said, “ We have the highest numbers of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease, where is our cultural plan for preparation for our communities in Te Hiku?”
Iwi members expressed the need to dispel myths about Coronavirus and protect the Māori community from misinformation. Angie Keung-Hopihana, of Paparore Marae, said, “We agreed collectively that we will work together under the same umbrella of information so that there is no misinterpretation, and we are dispelling myths that are currently out in the community.”
Ngāi Takoto is considering further measures to keep whānau, hapū and iwi informed by providing the most up to date information on the COVID-19 Pandemic through trusted channels like the iwi radio network.
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the Maori Pandemic Group, has since been established by Māori health professionals also frustrated by the lack of Māori engagement throughout the pandemic planning process. The group states that if you are Māori, you are more likely to get very sick from CORONAVIRUS if you are over 50 years of age. Check out their basic facts sheet for Māori specific information: http://www.uruta.maori.nz/basic-facts-about-covid