COVID-19: Infected family linked to Māngere church 'in tears', blindsided after positive tests

A family at the centre of the country's biggest COVID-19 clusters say they were in tears and felt blindsided after all seven of them tested positive for the virus. 

The family is among five others linked to the church cluster in Auckland that has just left quarantine (MIQ). 

Holding her two boys, Patricia Tosoga reflected on her family's ordeal with Delta. 

"We were so blindsided by it because only one of us from our household went to the service and then came home, and our whole family got it," she told Newshub.

That service in Māngere was just over one month ago. Now, finally, her family of seven is out of MIQ. 

The hardest part was learning her boys - Jacob and one-year-old Gus - also had the virus.

"I can honestly say that I was in tears as well as my whole family because just hearing that the little ones and the oldies were most vulnerable to it," she said. 

They were living in an overcrowded house in Avondale as the virus took hold. Upon release from MIQ, they've been reunited and helped into a temporary home in Otahuhu. 

"They've basically moved us in here as, like, transitional housing just to wait until they can find us a bigger home," Tosoga said.

All the adults in Tosoga's family worked but like many in the church cluster, the money dried up when the positive results came in. 

"So they've all come out with a lot of uncertainty on jobs, on rent arrears, issues around mental health," said Assembly of God church advocate Jerome Mika.

The solution? Cooperation. The response to Māori and Pasifika during the pandemic has long been considered too fragmented. 

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Su'a William Sio, says he's listened and accepts the old way of responding doesn't work for the most vulnerable. 

"The siloed working of government doesn't address the complexities of issues that these families face," he said. 

South Seas Healthcare and the Penina Trust, a Pacific-focused housing and mental health provider, have joined forces to help families recover from their COVID-19 crises.

"We understand our communities and their needs and it can't just be [the] same old, same old," said Penina Trust chief executive Ronie Lealaiauloto.