'We can't keep up': Papakura Marae struggles with Covid-19 demand

9:44 am on 6 March 2022

Auckland's Papakura Marae says it is struggling to cope with the sheer number of whānau needing its services.

Tony Kake

Papakura Marae chief executive Tony Kake Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

Its chief executive, Tony Kake, said the South Auckland marae is getting more than 70 families a day asking for support or food parcels, after having to go into self-isolation or losing work because of Covid-19.

He said they are running into supply issues and some vulnerable families are having to wait days.

"We can't keep up with the demand to be honest. They're running out stock eh, we put the requests through and sometimes it takes three days to get that stock through," he said.

"For instance we had 75 requests yesterday, and New World could only do 25. We're running by the skin of our teeth to be honest."

Kake said staff were finding ways to get supplies to get them to whānau, but he was not sure how much more it could be stretched.

It is a problem being faced by providers right across Tāmaki Makaurau as the number of Omicron cases continues to surge.

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Papakura Marae runs a Covid testing centre, as well as support services and vaccination centres. Photo: RNZ / Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Papakura Marae runs a testing centre, as well as support services and vaccination centres.

Dozens of people have been testing positive there every day. Kake said 62 is the marae's current one-day record.

"There's a lot of panic, a lot of anxiety. People just kind of need to be cool. Stay calm, kia tau."

Kake said the switch to rapid antigen tests has cut down wait times and made things easier for his staff.

But he said getting those tests has sometimes proved difficult. They have not had a situation where they have run out yet, he said, but supply lines are precarious.

Kake said the marae is losing staff, though they are prepared.

"Our kaimahi? Yeah we're dropping like flies. We're planning to be down about 30 percent of staff and we've got backups.

"I've diverted staff, we've just got to move people around to where the priority is. I've got to explain that to our funders, I'm waiting for the first one to object and then I'll serve with the Covid response, 'well you come and do it'."

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