Whānau support on a big scale

01 April 2022

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga has set up a COVID response hub to deliver kai and hygiene packs to whānau who are self-isolating.

It's a Saturday morning and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga is a hive of activity – just like it was the day before, and the day before that.

With COVID cases continuing to spread across the motu, the Hastings-based organisation is working harder than ever, setting up a COVID response hub to deliver kai and hygiene packs to families who are self-isolating.

Demand for support is high, with over 1,500 families reaching out for help in just a few short weeks.

It takes a village

Over 400 staff – based along the East Coast from Te Mahia to Remutaka, and across to Palmerston North – are rostered on to help with the response. The group is made up of workers from a range of services, including Family Start, Whānau Ora and Hiwa-i-te-rangi. Together, they're united in the passion that they have to support their community.

Family Start Social Services Portfolio Manager Raewyn Keil is helping coordinate the response, and admits it's had its challenging moments. Many staff are working above and beyond the call of duty, trying to keep up with the requirements of their day jobs, while continuing to help those in need.

Raewyn says "keeping your foot on the pedal" while responding to a global pandemic was never going to be simple, but with the help of many hands, the COVID response hub is proving to be a success.

As a community we have to look after one another. It's more than our hapū, our marae, our whānau. It takes a community to look after a community.

Proud to help

Whānau Ora Portfolio Manager Yvonne Waihua is grateful for the opportunity to help.

She and her team are among those rostered on to do the mahi. Responsibilities include taking referrals, carrying out welfare checks with families and packing and delivering the food.

"At the end of February it just became huge," she says. Some staff have become unwell with COVID, but there's been no shortage of people putting up their hands to fill the void.

The on-site cafe at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, which is closed to customers, is currently being used as a working base.

In addition to the staple tinned food, pasta, milk and sauces, there's also packs with fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meat. Hygiene packs are another option.

Yvonne says the whole experience has been surreal, but the feedback they've had from people has been overwhelmingly positive.

If there's one thing you do in your life that you can be really proud of, for me it's this. I'm proud to be part of an organisation that is helping people in need.

Yvonne Waihua