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Communities help each other in face of COVID-19

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Nā tou rourou nā tōku rourou ka ora ai te iwi: with your food basket and my food basket, the people shall live on!
This traditional whakataukī (Māori proverb) has come to life for Hawke’s Bay’s migrant communities, thanks to a partnership between local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu and the Migrant Welfare Group.
Sukhdeep Singh’s usual role is Multicultural Association Hawke’s Bay President, but for the past four weeks he has been working in the Migrant Welfare Group, part of the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group’s 'network of networks' – a group of community organisations and agencies responding to COVID-19.
The Migrant Welfare Group is made up of the Office of Ethnic Communities local advisor Rizwaana Latiff and the Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association, led by Mr Singh.
Mr Singh said by the second week of the national lockdown, it was clear that many migrant families needed more support.
“We knew right from the beginning of this response that migrant communities could potentially be some of hardest hit, needing support due to language barriers, lack of awareness of the support available, and facing financial hardship,” he said.
“We needed a way to give our diverse multicultural communities advice and information, as well as provide ethnically appropriate food parcels to those who needed welfare support.”
This is where the Tihei Mauri Ora initiative, a Ngāti Kahungunu and Hawke’s Bay District Health Board collaboration in partnership with central and local government, stepped in.
Kick-started to provide a welfare response to whānau pounamu (the most vulnerable), Tihei Mauri Ora Emergency Response Centre coordinators Henry Heke and Tofilau Talalelei Taufale suggested they join forces with the Migrant Welfare Group to support Hawke’s Bay’s multicultural communities.
Mr Heke said it made sense to work together to help at-risk communities, especially when whānau pounamu included all peoples.

“The Migrant Welfare Group community hub is now based at the Tihei Mauri Ora Tomoana Logistics Hub in Hastings so they can share our resources, and now has a direct line into the call centre as well as shared food storage facilities,” he said.
“We’ve been really pleased to be able to help other communities get through these difficult times.
“Now iwi, Pasifika and migrant communities are working together to provide food parcels and support to whānau pounamu.”
For the Migrant Welfare Group this collaboration means much more than just food parcels.
“This is a big step for us to support and help our vulnerable migrant community, made possible by forming these valuable relationships with Ngāti Kahugnunu and the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board,” Mr Singh said.
“This is a true relationship that shows us that we are at the table, not just sitting around it.
“We are achieving great outcomes and we have so many stories to share, such as how our local Indian Punjabi community has come together to provide fruit, vegetables, milk, rice, flour and bread to those who are doing it tough.
“We’re incredibly grateful for Tihei Mauri Ora – the relationship we’ve formed shows how much we can achieve, when we all work together to help those most in need.”
For urgent welfare support, call 0800 HBAYCD (0800 422 923)

For more information on COVID-19, visit

21 May 2020

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