COVID-19 Update: Honouring Te Huirangi Waikerepuru and updating on the Māori health response

13 Apr 2020

Ko hea tērā maunga e tū mai rā, ko Taranaki pea, nukunuku mai, nekeneke mai ki taku tauora kikini ai e hā. Ko te ahi a Tahu-Rangi tērā e tītia ai ki te tihi o Taranaki maunga hei whakamōhio mai kua piki ake rā koe e koro Huirangi i te aupikinga o ōu tūpuna rere atu ai ki te Pūtahitanga o Rehua. Nō reira e Huirangi, waiho mai mātou kia tangi atu i konei, ko ō mātou roimata hei kawe atu i tō waka. Hoki atu koe ki ō tūpuna, haere, haere, oki atu e.

Before I update you on the COVID-19 response, I want to acknowledge the passing of the esteemed Taranaki rangatira, Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru.        

As many of you will know, Huirangi devoted his life to the continued revitalisation of te reo Māori. He was heavily involved in the claim that led to te reo Māori becoming an official language in New Zealand and he was instrumental in the establishment of Māori Television and the Iwi Radio Network.  We are privileged to hear and see te reo Māori on a daily basis thanks to Huirangi’s passion and persistence.  

Huirangi modelled the servant leadership that many other Taranaki rangatira have become renowned for. Much like his forebears he will be remembered dearly as a man who loved his culture and his people.  

This is a challenging time for the whānau pani made even more difficult by our current situation – my aroha and whakaaro are with them. My thoughts are also with everyone who has experienced loss in these past few weeks.

Heoi anō, ko te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, ko tātou te pito ora ki a tātou. Tēnā tātou katoa.

It has been awhile since my last pānui and a lot has happened in that time – we are now two weeks into the COVID-19 Alert Level 4. I am encouraged that even though testing has increased the amount of confirmed and probable cases announced daily remains low. We must stay vigilant to ensure our whānau are safe and protected.

Overnight, our total number of cases increased by 44 to a total of 1283 confirmed and probable cases in Aotearoa – 16 of those cases are in hospital. We also know that 103 of those cases are Māori.

Since the outbreak started, 373 people have recovered. Sadly, two people have passed away. My thoughts are with their families. Mā te Atua rātou e manaaki i tēnei wā, ā haere nei te wā.

You can find more detailed information about current cases on the Ministry of Health website here.

Key updates:

  •         Social media campaign launched

As part of our communications approach, we have launched a social media campaign targeted at Māori communities online. The campaign was launched Wednesday night with a video featuring Jordan Vaha'akolo (Mai FM and Born to Dance) and Lance Savali (dancer for Beyonce, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez amongst others). You can watch the video on the Ministry of Health Facebook page here.

This social media campaign includes:

o        a series of humorous videos that deliver serious messages to whānau Māori - the first video released last night is an example of this;

o        and 'Check ups with Dr Lily Fraser' - a series of Q&A style videos with Māori influencers and Dr Lily Fraser.

Make sure to follow the Ministry of Health Facebook page to keep up to date with the campaign. Feel free to give our content a like and a share while you're there.

  •         Mental health and wellbeing

These uncertain times will be affecting the mental health of many people. It’s important to remind ourselves and our whānau that it’s alright to not be okay all the time.

It’s also important to remember that if we aren’t feeling good, there are things we can do to strengthen our taha hinengaro, our mental health.

This week the Ministry launched ‘Getting Through Together’ which is an online platform that has a lot of information and resources about how to take care of your mental health. It also provides information to help parents talk with their tamariki about mental health and wellbeing.

If you do find that you need some extra help and support, you can reach out seven days a week, 24 hours a day to trained counsellors by either calling or texting 1737.

  •         Join the surge workforce

The Ministry of Health has put in place a system to nationally coordinate the matching of supply and demand in our healthcare workforce.

If you or someone you know are looking for paid work, or if you need to employ extra staff as part of the response to COVID-19, visit the workforce webpage for more information, and to register your details.

  •         Childcare for essential workers

Government-funded, in-home childcare is available for COVID-19 essential workers. It’s specifically for tamariki aged 5 to 14. To make sure your whānau bubble is protected, these carers will only deliver services to your whānau.

A list of providers (updated daily) who are available to deliver childcare in the homes of essential workers is available here. They are completely government-funded and are available to start work now.

  •         Vaccinations

As at 3 April, 29.0 percent of Māori aged 65 and over had received the 2020 flu vaccination. The rate for non-Māori / non-Pacific people aged 65 and over is 30.4%. The rate for Māori 65 and over increased from 17 percent to 29 percent over the week to 3 April, with around 6,200 vaccines delivered – this is great news to hear.

Please continue to encourage your at-risk whānau, especially your kaumātua, to get their free influenza vaccinations as soon as possible. Encourage whānau to ring ahead to check when and where their GP/pharmacy/Māori Health Provider are giving vaccines.

Although the influenza vaccination won’t protect against COVID-19, it will help prevent a serious disease that kills hundreds of New Zealanders every winter.

  •         Flutracking

Flutracking is an online survey which asks if you have had a fever or cough in the last week which can help us track COVID-19.

Registering online will help our surveillance efforts by providing early detection of community spread of the flu and also of COVID-19 symptoms.

We encourage whānau to register online at This is a practical thing we can all do to help us monitor flu and COVID-19 symptoms throughout New Zealand.

Please can you help:

  1.        Ensure your provider networks know about these COVID-19 updates.
  2.        Share information with your local networks to ensure 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:

Kia tau iho te tauwhirotanga o te Atua matua ki runga i a koutou.

Nāhaku noa,

John Whaanga
Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate