26 Aug 2020

Pasifika social service hopes for more aid after supplies depleted

4:46 pm on 26 August 2020

More than 600 Pacific families received food parcels, masks and advice on home ownership and budgeting in Auckland during the resurgence of Covid-19.

Siaola community in Auckland providing parcels for Pacific families hit hard by Covid-19

Siaola community in Auckland providing parcels for Pacific families hit hard by Covid-19 Photo: Supplied / Siaola

Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission Trust, also known as Siaola, is a social service in central Auckland that provides support for Pacific people, with a special focus on Tongan people and families.

Siaola chairperson Tevita Finau said there were a lot of Pacific families struggling during this second lockdown and that was why the Trust provided food and professional support.

Over the weekend, the volunteers distributed food parcels to more than 400 households. However, some households had more than one family residing in the house.

"We helped 20 Tongan Methodist congregations and at least 21 were from other denominations across Auckland," Finau said.

"We also distributed 160,000 face masks to 3700 families through 41 churches."

The Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Pacific Peoples helped assist Siaola with food supplies and masks.

Siaola volunteers delivering face masks

Siaola volunteers delivering face masks Photo: Supplied / Siaola

"The families were very grateful and surprised," Finau said.

"I met one household who had three families staying together under one roof.

"One family were residents of New Zealand, there was a couple who were overstayers and another couple who are on a visitor visa. They are all surviving with the one income, so you can imagine how grateful they were for the food parcel."

Although Finau was pleased to put smiles on faces of people in his community, he was devastated he could not provide food parcels for everyone.

"We had more families coming through our doors asking for food parcels, but we ran out of supplies," he said.

"We are hoping and waiting for more assistance from the government and donors.

"We did have families take up on our home ownership and budgeting advice when we visited them with food parcels, which is a good sign that they want to be free from debt and have goals to buy a house."

Ōtara eatery gives back to their community

A South Auckland chef has decided to give away free dinner meals and drinks to a couple of families who are struggling during this second lockdown.

Jay Jays Eatery in Ōtara

Jay Jays Eatery in Ōtara Photo: Supplied / Jay Jays Eatery

Jane Halaifonua attends the South Auckland Bible Church and through their outreach programme, they come across many families in need of food parcels every week.

"There are a lot of families from the first lockdown to the second, the number of people needing food support hasn't dropped."

Through Halaifonua's Jay Jay's Eatery business, she wanted to do something nice for families during this pandemic because she kept hearing stories that were heartbreaking.

"I met a family who had an immediate family member pass away during the first lockdown and then another member died recently and someone in their family also lost their job," she said.

"I would love to feed everyone, but this is only the start of many more opportunities for me to help out my community."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs