The Napier group has delivered over 1500 food and health packages to residents in need and are expecting to deliver more in the upcoming months.
Care parcels and hygiene packs were provided to families and elderly in the Napier community, free and has been off the generosity of the community donating goods to the hub says the 35 year Māori Warden veteran Roxanne Gray (Ngāti Kahungunu).
“It’s been marvellous, we’ve had amazing support from the community,” she says.
“We’re the only food bank in the Ahuriri area. There’s a huge need, right at the beginning we were getting 320 referrals on one day.
“We had referrals from day care centres, school breakfast clubs to support whānau who have been to them to ask for support.
“The growers, supermarkets, iwi seafood company have been very generous, we’ve all banded together to share resources and working together.
“We’ve built our own little big bubble of support, it’s been wonderful!”
The Ahuriri Māori Wardens are made up of largely older kaumātua, so the support is largely provided by a small team, but they’ve also had fantastic aid from Maraenui and Flaxmere Māori Wardens.
One of the interesting parts of the mahi has been while talking to kaumātua in the region who have wrap around support declining the parcels says Roxanne.
“Our kaumātua in the region have a lot of wrap around support from their own whānau, so they don’t want to take the packages because of the support they already have in place, they would rather it go to a whānau who actually need it,” she says.
“It’s also comforting, knowing the kaumātua have support that they need.”
Roxanne who has worked in social services over many years says the need is high out there especially for the bigger whānau.
"A lot of social agencies closed their doors when lockdown began, which meant we needed to think what we could do to help," she says.
“Sometimes we’ll have to go and do a second drop off because the need is so great, I’ve been to one whānau who had close to 11 members and they’re so grateful to receive the packages because they were wondering how they were going to eat for the next few days until their benefit comes in.
“A lot of whānau weren’t prepared to have their children home for so long and not being able to access services that they normally would prior to the lockdown. Some of them were struggling before that, so many of these packages come as a welcome relief.”
Despite the success of the collaboration she says whānau should ask for support if they need it knowing that the demand is only going to grow in her rohe.
“It’s going to get worse in terms of jobs being lost and schools being closed and children being at home. The ones who are already on benefits have regular income, but there are a lot of whānau who are now on reduced incomes and can’t get as much income coming in to the home,” she says.
“Some of our people are a bit shy to ask for help. If you need help let us know.”
Photo: Roxanne Gray and Reece Clark seen here before a care package drop off.