Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

What Alert Level 2 looks like in the Wellington region

Johnson Raela | Reporter/Director – Wellington

With Auckland carrying the Covid-19 ‘heavy load’ for over a month now, the rest of the country has been enjoying the freedoms of Alert Level 2.

Freedom to roam Oriental Parade, surfing, waka ama, dining at cafes and restaurants and even gathering in community groups is some of what Wellingtonians have been enjoying for over two weeks.

In Lower Hutt, Alert Level 2 has come as a relief for the Avaiki Nui Mamas collective, who can now come together to sew their tivaevae for an upcoming exhibition.

Group leader Mii Hinarere Tupangaia says sewing in lockdown was critical for the group members wellbeing.

“I would call them and say, ‘If you’re sitting there and if it’s raining, this is the best thing to do — cushion or just making dresses.’ That’s one thing that I encourage them to do — make yourself a new dress, get dressed, get out.”

These mamas are proudly fully vaccinated and have actively encouraged the rest of their community to get vaccinated too.

“I wanna support everyone else, my family, my children, to get vaccinated, because it’s for our own health. That’s why when it came out, we all talked about it and we wanted to have this [vaccination],” says Mama Mii.

Wellington Cook Islands mamas
Group leader Mii Hinarere Tupangaia says sewing in lockdown was critical for the group members wellbeing. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

Across town in Porirua, Mana MP Barbara Edmonds has been busy making pies for frontline health workers in her electorate.

“During lockdown I had done a lockdown pie series just to help me with my own mental health, because I love cooking and baking. And through that and the connections with the providers, a lot of them were saying, ‘Oh, when’s our pie coming?’ So I had to wait to the right alert level, and it was just a gesture of thanks,” says Mrs Edmonds.

Although the region has been enjoying the freedoms of Alert Level 2, the Labour Party MP says there are still many families in desperate need of help across the region.

“In the Wellington region, Pasifika Futures through the Taeaomanino Trust, Pacific Health Plus were able to activate quickly and get out food packages as well as food vouchers and to help with utility bills for some of our families. Because overall, the main thing for us was we needed to for those families that needed the help. We had to be there as soon as possible,” says Mrs Edmonds.

Labour MP Barbara Edmonds has been making pies
Mana MP Barbara Edmonds has been busy making pies for frontline health workers in her electorate. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

Also moving with urgency was the Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHB, who have had vaccination events running at the Porirua mall, ASB Stadium and at the Pacific Health Plus Covid Vaccination Centre. The Director for Pacific Peoples Health at both DHBs, Tagaloa Dr Junior Ulu, says the push to get Pacific people vaccinated in the Wellington region started well before the latest lockdown.

“We’ve worked with the church leaders and then we’ve worked with the community leaders, and we created these festival days where we had food and we had music and we had entertainment, and then people came. And we said, ‘We’ll provide that if you bring your people.’ So that’s how this has worked really well.”

The focus for the DHBs now is getting Pacific youth vaccinated.

“Just as we approached the church leaders about how do we reach your communities, now we’re approaching the youth and saying, ‘What does this look like for you? We can throw some resources at this and empower you to attract your people.’ Because I’m not young, but they are young,” says Mr Ulu.

For 20-year-old Ezekiel Fiso, this latest lockdown has motivated him and his friends to get vaccinated early.

“The relationships that have been affected with time at school, with families and time in our community, it’s all been impacted because of Covid. And so because of that reason, a lot of my friends are trying our best to get vaccinated early,” says Fiso.

MP Barbara Edmonds acknowledges that without Auckland, the rest of New Zealand would not be enjoying this much freedom.

“Auckland, we’ve got your back. We know that you’re carrying the load for the rest of the country. I’ve got family there; I think most people across the country have family or friends that are in Auckland. We support you. Stay home, you’re going to save lives, and we will come out of this like we did last time.”

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