COVID-19 Update: Alert level changes, support for Mâori Communities

24 Mar 2020

Tēnā anō koutou katoa

As of 20 March, New Zealand has 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The global situation regarding COVID-19 is developing rapidly and new advice has been added to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

Key updates:

·        COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict, for the next 48 hours before moving into Level 4
Our Prime Minister announced today New Zealand has moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict, for the next 48 hours before moving into Level 4 – Eliminate from 25 March 2020. We are taking early and strong steps to ensure New Zealand will not to be as hard-hit by the virus as other countries. We must unite to stop the worst from happening here.

The escalation to Alert Level 3 – effective immediately means that there is a heightened risk that disease is not contained and that it is highly possible that community transmission is occurring.

This means:
-        Non-essential businesses must close
-        All events and gatherings must be cancelled
-        Schools will only open for children of essential workers. They will close completely when we move to Level 4
-        Workplaces must implement alternative working with everyone who can to work from home
-        No discretionary domestic air travel between regions
-        Public transport for people undertaking essential services and transport of freight only

These will change upon escalation to level 4 so please keep up to date.
For more information about the different levels, please see: https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-system/ & https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new-zealand-moves-covid-19-alert-level-3-then-level-4-48-hours

·        Support for Māori Communities
The Government has prepared a targeted package to support Māori in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key aspects of this package include initiatives for:
-        Supporting Māori businesses
-        Wrap around health services and wellbeing support for Māori communities
-        Packages of care, access to food, hygiene and sanitation packs, warm clothing, essential supplies and
-        Access to quality health information

For more information about the different levels, please see: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/supporting-m%C4%81ori-communities-and-businesses-through

·        Tangihanga and tikanga
The escalation to Alert Level 3 – effective immediately means that there is a heightened risk that disease is not contained and that it is highly possible that community transmission is occurring.

We know that Māori have already recognised the seriousness of COVID-19. Many iwi have already considered, adapted and implemented variations in practising tikanga to best represent their people and ensure the safety and minimisation of COVID-19 spread. These changes have impacted pōwhiri, greetings, and now also tangihanga. Moving forward, we all need to consider further changes to tikanga and kawa in relation to tangihanga. We encourage all iwi and hapū to re-evaluate and/or escalate variations to customary practises to ensure the safety of whānau.

Practical considerations for Tangihanga

  • If you are sick, please do not attend, and please do not prepare or handle kai intended for the tangihanga.
  • As haukāinga, make sure you are clear with manuhiri on changes to tikanga and kawa.
  • Touching a tupāpaku is not recommended because this can enable the spread of COVID-19.
  • Limit attendance and/or implement other measures to protect our kaumātua and those who have other conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Think about representatives who can attend on behalf of the wider whānau and friends. Ko wai hei māngai? Who can be a whānau rep?
  • Consider alternatives to physical attendance including utilising technology such as Facebook live, Skype or Facetime.
  • As haukāinga, make sure you have sufficient cleaning products to support hygiene.
  • If you are attending, consider giving advance notice to the host or haukāinga at the marae so they know who will be attending and can prepare for your arrival.
  • As manuhiri, be supportive of any changes to customary practises, tikanga and kawa put in place by the haukāinga – in doing so you enhance their ability to manaaki and keep everyone safe.

Varying tikanga can be unsettling but protecting our people must be at the core of our response to this pandemic. We appreciate the changes you have already put in place and those you will implement going forward to keep our whānau, hapū and iwi safe.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi – through collective contribution our communities can stay safe and healthy.  

·        The cross-agency website for COVID-19 is now live: https://covid19.govt.nz/
This website links all the information from across government on COVID-19 including travel and financial support information. There is advice for Māori, community groups, travellers and businesses.

The Ministry of Health website remains the official website for health information about COVID-19. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

To prevent the spread, it is important that everyone knows to ring ahead of their visit to the doctor if they think they might have COVID-19 and tell them about their personal situation/symptoms. This way, their doctors can put plans in place to manage their visit.

Please can you help:
1.        Ensure your provider networks know about these COVID-19 updates.
2.        Disseminate information through your local networks to ensure our whānau, hapū and iwi know the updated advice and how to keep themselves safe following good public health hygiene practices.

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

Hei te wa

John Whaanga
Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate
Waea pūkoro: 021 578 040  | Īmēra: John.Whaanga@health.govt.nz

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