Saturday, December 4

Parihaka prepared for the confinement: Zoom meetings not so much

Whānau in the isolated Parihaka settlement in Taranaki says they are well set up to keep vulnerable members of the community safe during the closure.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

About 45 people permanently live in Parihaka, first established by the pacifist prophets Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi in the mid-1860s.

Kuia Maata Wharehoka said that after the 2020 experience, the roughly 19 households in Parihaka instinctively knew what to do for the latest shutdown.

“We tend to gravitate towards Parihaka to stay. So for example, my family, I have my children who moved on the way here so that we stay in a bubble instead of being separated and that means we have caregivers for all the families here. This is how we have worked it. “

The 70-year-old is kaitiaki from Te Niho or Te Atiawa, one of three marae or houses in Parihaka, which is located about 50 kilometers southwest of New Plymouth.

He said that during the lockdown, unannounced visitors were not welcome in the settlement.

“People will be rejected if we don’t think they should be here and we did it last time. Even friends. You can’t come and share your molecules with people in the pae.”

Maata Wharehoka

Maata Wharehoka

“We are taking care of vulnerable people. We have about 10 of us here who need to be well cared for.”

Maata had a suspicion that Delta could become a problem.

“You just have the feeling that’s the next step in this. Delta will come. And I just stocked my cupboards and have enough food for a whole month.”

Maori health provider Tui Ora watches for papakainga like Parihaka on the coast and north of Taranaki.

Chief Executive Hayden Wano said his lockdown strategy was twofold.

“Our first two priorities are to maintain the services we need to keep people well, and the other is to make sure people know they can get vaccinated.

“We are encouraging people to get vaccinated. If they are concerned about getting vaccinated, we offer them the opportunity to speak with someone so they can understand what vaccination is all about. Those are our priorities right now.”

Wano said that when a need was identified, a more direct approach was taken.

“In addition to them, we are responding in more specific ways, either through our connections with the police or through iwi networks, where they are surveying areas where they believe there may be a particular whānau that has specific needs or that there is a vulnerability in a part of the community we are responding to them “.

Maata said that some families from Parihaka had taken advantage of Covid-19 and the vaccination clinics that Tui Ora was operating in Ōpunake, 25 kilometers away.

But while she was absorbed, the settlement had been successful in keeping the virus out until now, she admitted that there was a scourge of the lockdown that had come through the gates.

“What I do know is that they put us through more Zoom meetings and yesterday I had four, so it was really exhausting.”

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