Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is coordinating a network of agencies and organisations to make sure non-New Zealand residents in the region are getting the support they need following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Welfare Manager Alison Prins said the group was aware non-New Zealand residents would be uniquely affected by the pandemic.
“We were aware right from the beginning of our response to COVID-19 that people choosing to visit or work in our region would be facing ongoing issues specific to foreign nationals,” Mrs Prins.
“We established networks of agencies and organisations to understand the issues migrants and visitors would likely face; actively seek out those most at risk; and connect them with appropriate support.
“The many organisations involved have done a tremendous job in supporting people in these situations.”
Mrs Prins said there is a number of non-New Zealand residents in Hawke’s Bay, for a varierty of reasons.
“Some are living here with their families on essential, skilled, partner and children visas; some are here on working holiday visas to work in the horticulture and hospitality sectors; some are international students; some are part of the RSE scheme; some are visiting family and some are here on holiday.
“Some are not able to leave due to flight availability and cost; some have become unemployed; none have access to financial assistance from MSD, and some have limited or no funds left for accommodation, food and winter clothing.
“We’ve been tasked with ensuring people in these situations have the welfare support they need.”
The foreign nationals network agencies include New Zealand Apples and Pears, Horticulture New Zealand, Samoan and Tongan Recognised Seasonal Employer Liaison Officers, Multicultural Association Hawke’s Bay, Hawke’s Bay Tourism, Backpackers Association, EIT, Learning Hawke’s Bay, Citizens Advice Bureau, Tihei Mauri Ora and New Zealand Red Cross, as well as Hastings District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Napier City Council, New Zealand Police, Office of Ethnic Communities, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Social Development.
“We know the work is far from over, with a lot of seasonal work finishing and the middle of winter approaching,” said Mrs Prins.
“To this end, we’ve developed a plan to continue to get people the right support, including exploring ways they might find employment, or return to their home countries if it’s possible and appropriate.
“One of the key principals of this response has been to show manaakitanga to people choosing to visit and stay in Hawke’s Bay, and we’re committed to making sure non-New Zealand residents do not fall through the gaps.
“We want to show people choosing to visit and stay in Hawke’s Bay the same level of care that we would want our fellow New Zealanders who are currently overseas to receive.”
25 June 2020
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