3 May 2012

Wairoa resource centre opens new pathway says iwi

7:15 pm on 3 May 2012

Ngati Kahungunu iwi in Wairoa says the resource centre which it set up to help locked out workers at AFFCO's sheep and beef plant, has opened a new pathway for the tribe.

The centre which opened in mid-March and is housed in the taiwhenua building, provides weekly food parcels for about 250 families, as well as welfare advice and support.

Wairoa Taiwhenua chairman Rill Meihana says it's a move away from what the iwi is used to doing.

He says the iwi is there to just help registered members, but many of the locked out workers belong to other tribes.

Mr Meihana says that's meant a bit of a shift in thinking, but at the end of the day no matter which iwi are locked out and where striking workers are from, they're still part of the Wairoa community and need assistance.

He says the resource centre is proving to be of huge benefit.

Kelly Thompson, who is one of the locked out Wairoa meat workers, handles all the welfare issues at the resource centre.

She's grateful for the assistance which Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples provided last month, in streamlining the process for workers to access financial assistance and relief.

Ms Thompson says most meatworkers know nothing about WINZ, so the minister's decision to organise advocates to act on behalf of workers and deal directly with government departments and banks, has been very helpful.

She says despite the fact the industrial action is now into its tenth week, there is still a reluctance by some locked out meat workers to seek financial advice.