Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu announces the closure of the Puna Fund. The fund was established following the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020 in recognition that for many whānau in a crisis, navigating complex systems to access support was challenging.

During the recent Delta lockdown, demand from whānau for support increased exponentially with over 14,000 applications received over four weeks. This surge in requests has exhausted the fund and has forced us to close the Puna Fund, effective immediately.

“Whānau have shown resilience and fortitude and have been courageous enough to reach out for support. Whānau Ora came about through understanding that whānau hold the solutions for challenges they may face but there are exceptional circumstances where reinforcements are needed. We have been proud to answer the call and through the Puna Fund do a small part to help lessen the load for whānau,” says Helen Leahy, Pouārahi Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.“We are also heartened by the heroic efforts of so many Whānau Ora Partners, entities and Navigators, who work relentlessly to support whānau to find a way through dire times.”

The Puna Fund was created out of the COVID response and recovery funding and was allocated to meet the immediate needs of individuals and whānau who had been affected by the impacts of COVID-19.   “Government funding partners have been very clear that the COVID fund was time-limited, and that once the additional funding for recovery and rebuild was exhausted, the Puna fund would have to close,” says Ms Leahy.

Ihi Research reports show that lockdown restrictions lead to increased stress and require additional support from government agencies for relief and reassurance. It showed that lockdown had a significant impact on whānau and 20% had less work, 32% experienced increased costs, and 34% had less income and more costs.

“The top concern in the Ihi Research report was having enough food to feed the whānau. It was evident then that COVID increased food insecurity.   This was further reinforced during the Delta lockdown with over 90% of the applications we received related to whānau experiencing a severe food shortage,” says Ms Leahy.

The Puna Fund has helped reduce stress and, in some cases, improve the wellbeing and health of whānau during times of hardship and distress.

In particular, the report shows that Puna Funding helped whānau support the needs of tamariki, provide kai, pay bills, keep whare warm, attend job interviews, support data needs for tamariki learning, obtain their driver’s licence and take up or continue studying.

Whānau still facing hardship and in need of help can continue to approach Whānau Ora Navigators for support, or Work and Income directly.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Helen Leahy – 021 881 031

Kahu Te Whaiti – 021 518 094