Coronavirus: Te Whānau o Waipareira helping 75 families through self-isolation

With Māori now making up more than 42 percent of COVID-19 infections in New Zealand, many whānau with the virus are having to self-isolate at home.

This is creating greater stress for whānau who are already under pressure. But Te Whānau o Waipareira is supporting those who are self-isolating by providing food, giving them someone to talk to about working through relationships while living in a tight space, among other things.

For whānau Māori isolating at home, there are particular challenges, says Te Whānau o Waipareira director of social impact and innovation Awerangi Tamihere.

"I think probably the main challenge for all of them is that prior to being positive, prior to being in this COVID pandemic, they never had a lot of headspace in the first place to be able to look out past the hour, the day, the week," she tells The Hui.

"And not only that, if they didn't have that, they also didn't have the space to even stock up for three months, right? And as a result, they're dealing with a lot of the issues of poverty being absolutely exacerbated when they find out that they're positive and having to isolate at home, because how do they get food?"

At the moment, they're helping about 75 whānau - or approximately 250 people. A lot of the families have called them directly because they're unsure what to do. As a result, Te Whānau o Waipareira has set up a mobile nursing team that provide initial support, testing advice, calls to a GP and the public health team, and setting them up from a medical point of view.

Awerangi Tamihere.
Awerangi Tamihere. Photo credit: The Hui

Tamihere says, broadly, this is a better option than sending positive cases to managed isolation.

"It's a different assessment for every whanau because its needs are different.

"But broadly speaking, yes, because at least, you know, they've got food every day, they can isolate properly with their whānau, and they can have a regular testing regime, and regular medical support wrapped around them intensively 24 hours."

Having a Māori organisation like Te Whānau o Waipareira leading this response is important, Tamihere says, since having someone from your own community who understands you helps.

"Even though this is a very difficult time when you're dealing with our own communities, you need to have trust, faith, and hope, and when our own people can come to the door just to look in their eyes, it's emotional, crying, just somebody who understands them comes in.

"There is somebody finally who just says, 'This is us, this is where we are at, can you wrap around us to meet everything we need in our household?' Rather than having to navigate to different agencies.

"We're there to wrap around them for whatever it takes to wrap around them."

For whānau isolating at home, Tamihere urges them to call Te Whānau o Waipareira on 0800 924 942.

"We are open 8am to 8pm and do not sit there and wait and hope, we will get somebody to you within the hour on the phone talking to you. So just please do not be afraid to give us a ring," she says.

There are also their Facebook and Instagram pages where people can send them a message.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.

Coronavirus: Te Whānau o Waipareira helping 75 families through self-isolation