COVID-19 Update: Alert Level 3, Tangihanga Guidelines and the Māori Health Response

29 Apr 2020

Kia māturuturu te tōmairangi aroha o te Atua ki runga i a tātou katoa. Kia rere tōna manaakitanga me he awa ki a rātou e noho pani ana i tēnei wā. Ka whakaarohia ake rātou ngā mate tāruru nui o te wā me te kī atu, hoatu koutou, hoki atu ki ō tātou mātua tūpuna e tatari ana ki a koutou. Waiho mai mātou kia tangi atu i konei. Ko rātou ki a râtou, ko tātou te pito ora ki a tātou.

At midnight, the country shifted from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 - I want to take the opportunity to update you on what that means for whānau Māori.

We have made great progress in the fight against COVID-19 – we’ve seen this with a low numbers of cases announced daily. Engari, kia mataara tonu tātou, we can’t get complacent, we must remain vigilant. COVID-19 will fight back if we let it.

Tight restrictions still continue under Alert Level 3. The main rule remains the same – he noho kāinga, he oranga tangata, stay home, save lives.

Case Updates

Overnight, our total number of cases increased by three to a new total of 1472 confirmed and probable cases in Aotearoa – nine percent (132) of those cases are Māori.

Since the outbreak started, 1214 people have recovered. Nine cases have been hospitalised, one of those cases is in intensive care. Sadly, 19 people have passed away. My whakaaro and aroha continue to be with the whānau who are grieving – kia tau iho te manaakitanga o te wāhi ngaro ki runga i a rātou.

You can find more detailed information about current cases on our website here.

Key updates:

  •         Alert Level 3 – What does that mean for me?

We are now in Alert Level 3 and it is still quite restrictive. When you are not at work, school, exercising or getting essentials then you should be at home, the same as at Level 4. This will help protect your whānau and stop the spread of COVID-19.

You can add to your bubble to make life easier – but it is important you keep your bubble as small as possible. Choose a whānau member, or caregiver, or a person living on their own to join your bubble.

You can hunt on private land, but not on public conservation land. You need to stay within your region and stick to your bubble. Overnight trips are not allowed. You may only hunt on foot — using quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is not allowed. Fishing from shore is allowed but fishing from boats is still not permitted.

Businesses can start up again – but they must do it in a way that avoids face to face contact with customers, and good safety and hygiene practices must be put in place for kaimahi. Staff can come into work if they can’t do their job from home.

Small gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed for weddings and tangihanga only.

More information on Alert Level 3 and what it means for your whānau can be found here.

  •         Tangihanga Guidelines for Alert Level 3

The restriction on small public gatherings means that sadly, no formal tangihanga can happen during Alert Level 3. I understand the duress and stress this puts on whānau during a tough time. These are unprecedented times and we must do everything we can to keep our whānau safe and protected.

Under the new guidelines, viewings (up to 10 people only at a time) including kaikōrero/kaikaranga/members of the clergy are allowed.

Funeral directors are encouraged to provide an opportunity for whānau who have been in the same isolation bubble as the deceased (or would have been if the deceased died in isolation) to go to the funeral home to view the body in the first instance.

Other whānau, friends or others in separate isolation bubbles, and from within the same region, can go to the funeral home for viewing, but only up to a maximum of 10 people at any one time. Viewings should be made by appointment only.

We encourage tūpāpaku to be buried in the region they usually reside in. However, tūpāpaku may be transported inter-regionally when a person dies outside of the region they usually live in or when a person wishes to be interred at their urupā. Regions are defined as the regions that Regional Councils operate within. A link to the maps showing the regional boundaries can be found here.  

You can read the full tangihanga guidelines for Level 3 on our website.

  •         Māori Health Response – An update

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the Initial COVID-19 Response Action Plan released just under two weeks ago. If you haven’t managed to read it yet you can find it out on our website here.

A lot of the mahi outlined in the plan has already begun.

    • We’re supporting over 130 Māori health providers in their COVID-19 response.
    • We’ve confirmed regional allocation of funding to provide Māori communities with locally specific support and outreach including support of kaumātua.
    • We have worked with the DHBs to identify all Community Based Assessment Centre's and testing centres across NZ.
      • We are now identifying areas with high Māori population numbers to identify service gaps and ensure Māori have access to testing.
      • We are also investigating the establishment of mobile testing centres.
    • We’ve established a national and regional communications approach.
      • We have launched a social media campaign to reach whānau online. The first few videos have done extremely well with a combined reach of over one million. You can watch them on our Facebook here.
      • We’ve allocated regional funding to support our DHBs in their communications mahi.
    • A proactive flu vaccination programme has seen a significant increase in the amount of kaumātua receiving their flu vaccines – as at April 17, 42.2 percent (22,919) of Māori aged 65 and over had received their flu vaccination.  

This is just a start but we are committed to doing as much as we can to support whānau Māori through this time and beyond. I will continue to update you on the Māori health response as it continues.

Please can you help:

  1.        Ensure your provider networks know about these COVID-19 updates.
  2.        Share information with your local networks to ensure our whānau know the updated advice and how to keep themselves safe.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or my team at: maorihealth@health.govt.nz

Mā te wāhi ngaro koutou e tiaki, e manaaki hei ngā rangi e heke mai nei.

Nāhaku me aku mihi aroha,

John Whaanga
Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate