27 May 2020

Whānau in South Auckland still struggling - support group

7:10 am on 27 May 2020

A kaupapa Māori social service in Papakura says the level of need in the South Auckland suburb is still at crisis point, with unemployment impacting hundreds of families.

Open food parcel

Kootuitui ki Papakura has been helping deliver food to South Auckland whānau unable to leave their house during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: RNZ Insight / Sarah Robson

Kootuitui ki Papakura provides services and support around education and health for six local schools in their area.

Its chief executive Angela Gattung said it usually worked with around 150 whānau, but took on an additional 200 who needed their support during the Covid-19 lockdown.

"The level of need is still at crisis. There's huge unemployment in Papakura," she said.

"People reported being laid off really quickly. They just lost their jobs and in the early stages didnt know how to ask about the wage subsidy."

Kootuitui ki Papakura received support from Te Puni Kokiri to help support whānau with food packages.

"Families were all trying to cope, many of them, especially Māori whānau, were quite proud," she said.

"If they approached us it'd be after they had been trying hard to make do with what they had. It was very time intensive working with 350 whānau. When you think of all the individual conversations you can imagine how many hours it took, but it was fabulous.

"We decided to do grocery boxes for families that couldn't get out of the house. Some had family members with diabetic or other health needs, others needed baby products. So, we gave them grocery vouchers," Gattung said.

Her team will be visiting whānau again over the next few weeks to check in with them, and update their data to better understand what their needs are.

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