Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern explains what the Government's doing to help Māori during the pandemic

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Māori are at the decision-making table during the COVID-19 response - despite calls Māori are being left out. 

Ardern says there's been a real effort to make sure the Government is engaging with Māori as early and as quickly as possible.

So far Māori health providers such as Whānau Ora and more than 130 health organisations have been at the centre of the Māori health response. A number of Marae and iwi groups have also played a key role in supporting kaumātua and families.

District health boards, Ardern adds, are also forming key relationships with Māori as well.

"That on the ground response for me has been the most important part."

Ardern highlights the success of the Northland, Whanganui and Te Tairawhiti District Health Boards in working alongside iwi and health providers to bring Māori to the table.

"Māori are part of the decision-making at a District Health Board level."

One of the biggest impacts for whānau across the country are the strict rules around tangihanga.

During alert level 3 only 10 whānau members are allowed at a tangi - but Ardern says it's a necessary measure to stop COVID-19 spreading.

"This has been one of the hardest parts of our response - people who have lost loved ones," she says. "I hope it won't be for much longer."

The economic fallout is expected to be widely felt by Māori, who Ardern says are impacted most through economic shocks.

The Provincial Growth Fund Ardern believes is one way of helping to support Māori communities - with $400 million pumped into Māori communities from the fund so far.

"That was always designed to focus on those regions where we have seen high levels of deprivation and where there is a higher proportion of a Māori population."

Ardern and Forbes speak to each other online.
Ardern and Forbes speak to each other online. Photo credit: The Hui

Ardern says the lessons from supporting vulnerable groups like kaumātua during the lockdown need to be learnt when it comes to stopping child poverty.

"This job is not done - we're only just at the beginning." 

The Hui