Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Supporting the displaced Pacific community affected by border closures

Cook Islands mother Rachel and her daughter with Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare Navigator John Kiria. Photo / Supplied

There are currently multiple Pacific groups displaced in New Zealand due to the nation’s Level Four lockdown and the closures of neighbouring Pacific borders, says the Pasifika Medical Assocation through Pasifika Futures (PFL) – the Whānau Ora commissioning agency. The organisation says they have been working with their Covid-19 Support Partners across the country to ensure these groups are being kept safe and are supported during the lockdown.

A Cook Island mother and her 15-year-old daughter are among those that PFL have identitfied and are working with Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare to ensure they are taken care of.

Rachel and her daughter arrived in New Zealand on 24 March after they had evacuated from Rarotonga due to the daughter experiencing Covid-like symptoms.

On arrival in New Zealand, the pair went to Middlemore Hospital where the daughter was examined and later tested negative for Covid-19. However, once discharged from hospital, they had nowhere to stay and couldn’t return to the Cook Islands due to border closures.

“In normal circumstances, we would usually stay with our family in Auckland, but in this case, we couldn’t do that because we had to go into isolation,” Rachel explained.

She paid for two nights in a hotel at her own expense before contacting Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare, who secured accommodation for Rachel and her daughter with PFL’s assistance.

A Navigator at the healthcare clinic, John Kiria, has been in constant contact with Rachel and her daughter.

“They have been put into hotel accommodation in central Auckland and all meals have been provided for,” he said.

They will remain at the provided accommodation until they are able to travel back to the Cook Islands.

Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare and PFL are also supporting four Cook Island students who were studying in New Zealand and like Rachel and her daughter, have been unable to return home due to border closures. They are receiving accommodation support during the lockdown.

Tuuakitau Rugby Team from Ha’apai are another group currently displaced in New Zealand’s lockdown. Photo / Supplied

There are other Pacific groups currently displaced and needing support during the lockdown including the Tuuakitau Rugby Team from Ha’apai, Tonga and a number of Pacific seasonal, factory and forestry workers currently in Gisborne from Fiji and Samoa.

PFL are working closely with their respective COVID-19 Support Partners such as the Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers’ Association (ATHWA) and the Pacific Island Community Trust of Gisborne to provide immediate and practical support such as the COVID-19 Support Packages.

Sipinga To’ofohe, a Navigator for ATHWA, advised that supermarket vouchers have been supplied to the Tuuakitau Rugby Team and that they are looking at providing additional support such as winter clothing and further accommodation options.

In total, 88 Pacific people are being supported from Invercargill to Auckland from eight Pacific countries during the lockdown period.

PFL say they will continue to provide relevant support for all these displaced Pacific groups and any others that come to their attention as they work with their COVID-19 Support Partners to ensure both their physical and mental wellbeing is taken care of during these unprecedented times.

Source: Pasifika Medical Assocation Group

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