Covid-19: Māori support agency 'inundated' with demand for kai

Te Pātaka volunteers and workers Jo Lane, left, Bex Gardiner, Maringi Kerei-Pukekohatu, Joshua Joseph and Natalie White. The support agency has been “inundated” with demand.
BRYA INGRAM/STUFF
Te Pātaka volunteers and workers Jo Lane, left, Bex Gardiner, Maringi Kerei-Pukekohatu, Joshua Joseph and Natalie White. The support agency has been “inundated” with demand.

A Māori support agency has been “inundated” with demand for kai, with more people needing help this lockdown.

“For the first 72 hours [after the lockdown announcement] this place was just pandemonium.

“There's a bit of anxiety this time, maybe people were in a bit of a pinch,” Te Pātaka kaiarataki (leader) Joshua Joseph said.

“We certainly experienced a huge referral period, and it hasn't tapered off.”

Joseph said it had experienced a large increase in demand for its services right across Te Tauihu (top of the south), and they had been “inundated” with referrals.

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“I think this time around because it came as such a shock, whānau have been caught unaware, and therefore I think that’s translating into referrals.”

He said Te Pātaka (The Pantry) was “running as it always does” during lockdown, with “volunteers from all walks of life pitching in” to help, and deliveries across regions being assisted by Corrections and DOC, who were able to take packages from one region to another.

Bex Gardiner packages up a food package for a whānau in need of support.
BRYA INGRAM/STUFF
Bex Gardiner packages up a food package for a whānau in need of support.

He said each food package was sufficient for a family of four to five people, for up to five days.

He estimated “an excess of 160” of the standard kai packs were delivered in the first week, and a further 120 packages of other goods.

“That’s three meals a day. So if we do the numbers we’re talking thousands of meals over the course of the week,” he said.

“We’re a kaupapa Māori service, so our motto is no whānau go hungry, regardless of situation, and especially our tamariki (children) and kaumātua (elderly).

Each food package was sufficient for a family of four to five people, for up to five days.
BRYA INGRAM/STUFF
Each food package was sufficient for a family of four to five people, for up to five days.

“So we will do everything we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

An average of 70 food parcels each day have been distributed to whānau in the top of the south since lockdown.

This amounts to an average of 35 packages in Wairau (Blenheim), 30 in Whakatū (Nelson) and 5 in Motueka.

Te Pātaka Incorporated chairwoman Dr Lorraine Eade said it had noticed a significant increase in demand this lockdown compared to the last.

Te Pātaka kaiarataki (leader) Joshua Joseph says they have experienced a large increase in demand for their services since lockdown.
BRYA INGRAM/STUFF
Te Pātaka kaiarataki (leader) Joshua Joseph says they have experienced a large increase in demand for their services since lockdown.

Eade said the main need so far had been kai.

“There is significantly more demand, especially in this first week,” she said.

“We encourage whānau to reach out and ask for help. Especially those Māori whānau who are not already connected to service providers.”

Eade said she had been “humbled” by the number of people who had put their hand up to support whānau in Te Tauihu.

She said they had also established a tikanga hoe response team for those whānau who might lose a loved one during the alert level restrictions, and needed support and help.

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Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust was established in February 2021 by the eight mana whenua iwi in the top of the south, to aid the COVID-19 recovery response.

This was targeted at the Māori community across Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman – with support provided through Te Pātaka - which grew out of last year's nationwide response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Eade said Te Pātaka had three streams of support through lockdown.

The first was picking up kai for people who could not get to the supermarket, but were still able to order it online.

The second was if whānau had tried Work and Income and their local foodbank and had been unable to access their support, or the support would not reach the whānau in time.

“Then we can provide standard kai packs that keeps a whānau going for up to three days,” Eade said.

“And finally, we are partnering with Civil Defence teams in terms of supporting them with their welfare response.

Whānau who needed support could contact the hotline on 0800 514 358 or email awhi@kotahitehoe.org.nz.