An iwi collective says they are committed to standing up their own response effort to help prepare for what they expect as an increase in Covid-19 cases among Māori when the country moves into the traffic light system.
Te Ranga Tupua collective, made up of iwi in Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu and South Taranaki, have secured $2.8 million of government funding to ensure support for whānau in the region, in to provide information and build preparedness and resilence to Covid-19.
Ngāti Rangi chairperson and collective spokesperson, Whetu Moataane, said it only a matter of time before Covid-19 spread to their rohe, with Māori expected to be most impacted.
"We need to ensure that our whānau are prepared for what this means so that we can care for and support each other when people start becoming sick," Moataane said.
"Our major focus will be on increasing vaccinations as well as looking at how we plan for living with Covid - this includes isolation planning, testing regimes and social service planning."
The iwi collective is working with the three DHB's in their regions and iwi providers.
Operations lead and Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui chief executive, Nancy Tuaine, says they will stand up another pandemic response effort in coming weeks.
"When we shift to the traffic light framework and the country starts to open up - modelling tells us that it is Māori who will be inequitably impacted by this," she said.
"It is likely that our hospital system will be stretched in an outbreak and we want to support whānau to be prepared, which also means being able to look after ourselves at home."
Tuaine says the collective effort will include establishing mobile units, working with whānau to develop their plans, and exploring options for isolation facilities.
"We are urging our families to start having conversations as a whānau around how they will support each others wellbeing in an outbreak."