26 Mar 2020

How Māori across Aotearoa are working to stop the spread of Covid-19

5:32 pm on 26 March 2020

Iwi across the country have mobilised to stop the spread of Covid-19 in their rohe and protect their most vulnerable.

Iwi checkpoints were operating in the Far North on the night before the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Photo: RNZ / Talei Anderson

Many acted last week, before the lock down was announced, amid concerns about the increased vulnerability of Māori to the virus, due to higher rates of chronic diseases like heart and lung disease, and poorer resourcing of primary health care for rural Māori communities.

From setting up phone lines to receive pātai from concerned whānau, to establishing roadblocks to stop non-residents from entering their regions, here's the iwi responses to Covid-19.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Iwi Chairs Forum

The Iwi Chairs Forum has established its own pandemic response group, Te Rōpu Whakakaupapa Urutā.

On its website is information for whānau, including detailing what a level 4 response is, what the tikanga is during this period, and how to prevent the spread (i.e it is still okay to have a kai with your whānau as part of our tikanga but don't share unwashed ipu, utensils or bitten kai.)

Te Tai Tokerau

Ngāti Kahu have set up checkpoints at Waipapa on State Highway 10, and Mangataiora on State Highway 1.

This will include a Covid-19 assessment from 8am - 8pm, however, there will be iwi members monitoring the checkpoint 24/7.

Meanwhile, Ngāti Kuri have removed the checkpoint at Waiomio. The gate to the most northern community of the country, Te Hapua, will continue to be manned by community security 24 hours a day, and only residents will be let in.

Water tanks in the drought-stricken area have also been filled, and Ngāti Kuri teams are supplying water to residents in Te Kao, Ngataki and Houhora. You can call 0800 283 353 if you need support.

Tamaki Makaurau

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are have been actively contacting whānau, starting with kaumātua to ask how they can assist.

He uri o Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei can contact the iwi on 0508 NWOrakei or on its website.

Te Moana a Toi

Te Whānau a Apanui have set up checkpoints at Pōtikirua and Te Taumata o Apanui, which are being manned by police and hapū representatives. Only courier, medical, council and food supplies are allowed in.

It also has four different hapū response teams across the region, which will deliver hygiene and sanitation packs.

Flu vaccine clinics will operate at Waihou Bay and Te Kaha on on Tuesdays from 12 - 2pm, and at Omaio clinic Wednesday 11 - 12pm.

You can get all the latest on Te Whānau a Apanui Covid-19 Iwi Response Facebook page, including contact details for hapū representatives.


Ngāti Porou will provide flu injections to its kaumātua and those with chronic health conditions at its healthcare centre Ngāti Porou Hauora, but home visits can also be arranged.

It will also deliver 2000 food and hand sanitiser packs whānau along with fire wood and clothing for those in need.

Checkpoints have been set up at Hicks Bay, Te Araroa, Ruatoria and Tokomaru Bay.


The iwi has begun delivering flu vaccines to kaumātua and vulnerable tamariki starting at Tauwhare marae near Hamilton yesterday.

The iwi was at Maungatautari marae this morning and will be at Poihakena Marae in Raglan this evening.

People are urged to stay in their cars as it is a drive through vaccination service.

The iwi will also be delivering care packages to kaumātua during the lockdown.


Ngāti Ruanui has set up a digital iwi response team with Te Korowai o Ngāruahine to contact thousands of their registered iwi members to check in about Covid-19.

Over 100 iwi members have been deployed to deliver the response plan.

Whānau can also call the helpline (0800 782 684).

Last week, Ngāti Ruanui set up two isolation rooms for suspected cases, and gathered a list of volunteers to check on kaumātua and vulnerable iwi members.

The Ngāti Ruanui Healthcare medical centre in Hāwera is the Covid-19 testing site for South Taranaki.

Te Urewera

Tuhoe has closed Te Urewera and all huts, campgrounds, freedom camping areas. That includes the closure of all boat ramps and the DOC-managed Waikaremoana Holiday Park.

Te Urewera Board and Te Uru Taumata chair Tāmati Kruger said the iwi will be checking tracks, huts and campsites in Te Urewera and the iwi have not allowed any visitors to begin the Great Walk in the past two days.

All hut bookings until 30 June have been cancelled.


Rangitāne o Wairarapa delivered food packs to 48 kaumātua last week. It has also posted information about Covid-19 and its risks to iwi members for those who do not have internet.

Meanwhile, Ngāti Kahungunu delivered kai of onions, apples and squash to their taiwhenua or rohe to be handed out to whānau. Whānau who need support are encouraged to speak to their local taiwhenua.

Te Waipounamu

Ngāi Tahu are in the process of contacting their 7000 kaumātua to ask what they need.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus: