Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu welcomes this morning’s announcement of funding to support the response of Māori and Pasifika communities to the Omicron outbreak. In total, $140 million has been allocated to this response, with $40.6 million directed to Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies to enable wraparound and holistic support for whānau.  As the Commissioning Agency for the South Island, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is grateful for this much-needed support.

“We appreciate the Government’s timely support in responding to the demand we are seeing within our communities,” says Helen Leahy, Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. “This funding is desperately needed, and will allow us to focus on key areas we have identified: support for tamariki and rangatahi, wraparound, holistic support for whānau and addressing mental health and wellbeing for those who continue to be impacted by the pandemic.”

Last week Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu surveyed Whānau Ora partners as to the types of support requested by whānau since the implementation of the COVID-19 Protection Framework in December 2021, and the transition to the red setting in January this year. The report identified an increase in requests for support with food, firewood, and utilities, as well as new requests for resources to help them stay safe and connected within their whānau.

“The role of the red light setting was essentially to slow down the virus, but it has done very little to alleviate ongoing concerns about basic essentials and loss of employment,” says Ms Leahy. “It has also introduced new concerns around preparing for self-isolation, and the growing division between vaccinated and unvaccinated communities.”

The report identified three primary concerns held by whānau in Te Waipounamu: safety and loss of connection to whānau during self-isolation, mental health pressures and financial risks, and the accessibility and affordability of kai.

“The funding announced today will enable Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu to introduce new wraparound supports and strengthen existing approaches that address these concerns,” says Ms Leahy. “We will be working closely with our Whānau Ora partners to identify the most effective use of this pūtea to reach the greatest number of whānau.”