3 Apr 2020

Details of $30 million for Covid-19 Māori health funding to be released next week

7:35 am on 3 April 2020

Iwi will have to wait to hear the details of the government's plan for targeted Covid-19 Māori health funding, but in the meantime they continue to carry out their response plans off their own backs.

Young doctor giving helping hands for elderly woman

Waikato-Tainui has so far given 370 people a flu vaccination through their mobile clinic, Te Hiwa, with another 500 vaccinations through their clinics. Photo: 123RF

The government made $56m available to Māori communities to respond to Covid-19, $30m of which is specifically for health, $470,000 for iwi response plans through Te Arawhiti, and $10m through Te Puni Kōkiri for outreach to Māori communities.

The remaining $15m is for Whānau Ora, which the Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare said had already been distributed to the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies.

This has resulted in more than 100,000 care packages being co-ordinated by commissioning agencies, with 11,300 delivered to date and 30,000 expected to be delivered by the end of this week.

However, the $30m in targeted Māori health funding has "yet to be accessed", and more details would be released next week.

Meanwhile, the likes of Waikato-Tainui have been continuing to ensure that their kaumātua and most vulnerable are getting the flu vaccine.

The iwi has so far vaccinated 370 people through their mobile clinic, Te Hiwa, with another 500 vaccinations through their clinics.

Waikato-Tainui chief executive Donna Flavell said while Counties Manukau DHB was supportive of the iwi vaccination scheme, it was slow to get it off the ground.

"It took about a week just to turn that around, so just things like that take another whole week even though we've been waiting," Flavell said.

"I know everyone has been trying and everyone's trying to work it out to do it in a safe way - we don't want to expose people unnecessarily, we get that - but in the meantime, our most vulnerable are becoming more vulnerable."

She said they had accessed a small amount of money from the government but they still needed to work out where their people's needs were.

Ngāti Ruanui in Taranaki have said they would continue to find their own funding sources to support their iwi response plan.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the funding took too long to show up.

"It was a little too late and I think after the fact there'll be some aspects that we'll go in and say, 'well actually we ran a regional pandemic response,' and there'll be some obligations for certainly the Crown to come in," Ngarewa-Packer said.

"We've been rung in the last few days and offered resourcing for this, this and that ... but to be really honest we take the attitude that, yes, the government absolutely has an obligation but we can't hang around."

Māori health provider in the Waikato Raukura Hauora, which has four GP clinics, was able to access some funding from Te Puni Kōkiri in just over a day.

Its chief executive, Terina Moke, said they were rapt with the support from the local DHBs and that worked both ways.

"We were asked if we could provide some of our kaimahi to pick up PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] gear from Auckland Hospital and then deliver it across the metro area to GPs, and we did it, so we also understand the amount of pressure the DHBs are under and if we can assist in any way, we will."

Moke said she had not yet had a chance to evaluate how much more of the $56m on offer they needed, as the clinic had been rapidly shifting to virtual consults for the last two weeks.

Chief executive of Te Whānau a Apanui Rikirangi Gage said getting financial support for iwi volunteers, particularly those working on checkpoints, was something they were considering.

"We have people working night shifts and so forth, but as this moves in this stage, there's been a decrease of people working on the roads so we've accommodated accordingly - but we have volunteers in other areas like hapū visiting the homes."

  • 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

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