This whakataukī reflects the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic during lockdown in our region.
With an aim to ‘ensure that there was kai on the tables of every whānau in Kahungunu’ many groups worked closely to help achieve this. Having a 300 strong workforce, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga (TToH) had the capacity to run two packing and distributing operations. TToH Welfare lead, George Edwards co-ordinated both teams with his catch phrase “It’s about the kaupapa” which inspired staff to keep packing and delivering to those who needed it, all the while coming out of their bubbles to do so.
The first was to pack and distribute goods supplied by Whānau Ora to assist with household surface cleaning. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of the local chapel, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints in Flaxmere that offered their building as a packing site. The next was setting up a food bank with support from Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence and TMO. Tihei Mauri Ora co-ordinated bulk donations from local suppliers including Watties and Bostocks and provided volunteer Community Champions.
TToH reached rural communities through a mobile COVID-19 swabbing service. This allowed those in smaller rural communities the opportunity to discuss not only welfare needs but health needs as well. TToH carried out 275 COVID-19 swabs in rural communities around Hawke’s Bay. The overwhelming response by organisations big and small in our community was outstanding. Koha (donations) of meat and produce, food and dairy products, bags, forklifts and firewood being gratefully received and distributed. Te Aute College students volunteered their weekends to deliver firewood to kaumātua in the community, truly living their school motto – whakatangata kia kaha – quit ye, like men be strong. The community champions set-up by Tihei Mauri Ora displayed true community spirit, volunteering their time to liaise with and deliver to their community. Having these champions in place meant that the specific needs of each community could be met. By the time the country moved into Alert Level 1, over 12,000 Whānau Ora hygiene boxes had been delivered, and over 1,200 households had received food parcels. While Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga returns to business as usual, adjustments have been made to ensure that the food bank can continue as long as there is the need in our community