4 Sep 2021

Helpers keen to ease pressures of life in lockdown

2:35 pm on 4 September 2021

When the going gets tough, the Ōtara community gets going.

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Terangi Parima says as a local she knows the need that exists in Ōtara. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

A team of locals there are wasting no time in lockdown, working to get food and essentials to whānau in need.

One of them was Terangi Parima from the Community Builders Trust and the Ōtara Kai Village.

"This is super important because we know the need is there...," she said.

"We've been born and raised in Ōtara, so we know that the struggle is real outside of lockdown and inside of lockdown it becomes even more."

Food parcels were in high demand, with some whānau facing job losses and a number of elderly scared to leave the house because of Delta.

Solar showers were set to be distributed to the homeless, who normally relied on the free local pool facilities.

They formed part of hygiene packs, also being sent to some families, that included shampoo, conditioner, body wash, towels and dental products.

The operation was about more than just providing the basic necessities. It was also about making sure whānau got a little joy.

Bags dubbed 'parent sanity packs' were filled to the brim with sweet and savoury treats for families stuck at home.

They also contained a deck of cards, so whānau could get active and spend some quality time together.

One of the team in Ōtara, Tash Teaurima, said birthday cakes were being delivered too.

"We just want to give a bit of hope and just to cheer them up for three weeks I believe now of lockdown, so we just want to, yeah, just pick them up really."

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Tash Teaurima with some of the birthday cakes. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

If all that wasn't enough, the team was also getting active on social media, connecting with people in the community.

Swanie Nelson said it was about getting creative while checking in on people, and having a chat about their life in lockdown.

Central to all of the work, she said, was mana enhancement, especially for whānau feeling whakamā - shy or embarrassed - about asking for help.

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Swanie Nelson doesn't want people to feel shy about seeking help. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

"We make sure we create fun around the environment, how we approach it so it doesn't feel like transactional, you know?" Nelson said.

"Here is this and I'll take that, kind of thing. But that it's like this is how we are, we look after one another.

"In Māori we call it manaakitanga and so that manaaki is exuberated through the way that we do things."

Despite the hard work done by the team, and all of the other frontline groups in Auckland, there was still a lot of need.

Nelson said laptops for students were in short supply, and the team were desperately searching for donations.

When it came to what was happening out in South Auckland today, Harmony Siaea put it best: Ōtara supporting Ōtara.

"We're people who have grown up in this community, we're people who are born and bred in this community.

"We've been through some of the struggles that our people are going through right now, so we understand the need that's out there, especially in South Auckland."

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Harmony Siaea puts it best: Ōtara supporting Ōtara. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

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