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‘We don’t stop’: Pasifika services continue to help struggling families amid Covid uncertainty

Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

While Auckland remains in level 3 lockdown, the journey continues for the Pasifika Futures Urgent Response Team which, among other things, has been delivering food packages to families in need.

Charles Salt joined the team three weeks ago as a delivery driver.

“We get around 25-30 deliveries per day, and we could be allocated anywhere from Papakura all the way to North Shore,” he says.

“We’ve noticed that a lot of people who don’t normally need packages, need packages. So it just shows the impact that Covid and Delta has on our community. It’s really sad as well, but then again, it brings a lot of joy to see that we can bring food and assistance when needed.”

Director Lucyanne Laurenson says the need in Pacific communities continues to rise, which is why the urgent response team is on call seven days a week.

“In terms of support packages, we’ve distributed 33,000 packages, and that’s going out to 100,000 individuals, and that’s 25% of our Pacific population,” she says

Down the road, Penina Trust CEO Tupuola Roine Lealaiauloto has also been helping Pacific families by providing them with transitional housing.

“We’ve got a lot of overcrowded housing, a lot of people in housing distress as well as low socioeconomic position in our communities. And so the concern when we went into this lockdown is — what happens if we get a big Pacific cluster?” she says.

The Penina Trust reserved seven homes in Ōtāhuhu before lockdown to prepare for a potential outbreak.

When news of the AOG cluster broke, they jumped on board to provide assistance.

“A lot of these families have had to cope with the uncertainty and the fear around Covid. You know, a lot of them are worried about their family members; some of them have been split in different rooms and even in different hospitals and things like that.”

“They haven’t had many choices as well — so things around employment, loss of employment, concern about other family members, child care arrangements — all those other things that have really exacerbated the situation that these families are in.”

Pasifika Futures have also played a major role in providing emergency housing as well as support for people in MIQ.

“They don’t have the time to run up the road and grab what they need or can’t get children’s resources, so there’s been a lot of anxieties and stress. But that’s what our team is here for,” Lucyanne says.

While the future for Auckland remains uncertain, one things for sure: many people still need help.

“We don’t stop. If there’s a family in need, it’s not a time thing where we just cut and say, ‘This is it, we end our service.’ It’s continuous for us. If there’s a family that’s still in need, we’ll be there to help them.”

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