Making progress on COVID-19

Published on 30 April 2020

Ann Court (Deputy Mayor)

This week we passed a significant milestone in our fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus with the nation moving to Level 3 restrictions on Tuesday. Only a small number of new cases of the virus are being reported, and experts say we have eliminated the spread of the disease. That does not mean we have won. The virus still poses a significant threat to our health and there remains the very real possibility of a surge in transmission and new cases if we rush too quickly back to normal. That means most of us must remain in our bubbles and continue to observe physical distancing.

These restrictions are having the biggest impact on the most vulnerable members of our community. Those with existing health issues, people who live remotely or are unable to get to stores. I am hugely impressed by the way individuals and community organisations have rallied to make sure these people are not forgotten and that everyone is assisted through the pandemic. Our many Māori organisations have taken a strong lead, tapping into their extensive networks to rally volunteers, facilities and transport.

Our efforts to help others have had to deal with an extra layer of complexity during this response. It is crucial that the support provided does not inadvertently endanger those being assisted. Northland Civil Defence has played a key role here, ensuring personal protection gear is available and physical distancing protocols are followed by volunteers.

In the Kaikohe area, Ngāpuhi is doing a remarkable job marshalling its networks to ensure no one is forgotten. In one week alone, it helped to repack over 30 tonnes of essentials to create 3,060 manaaki (care) packs of food. Each kai pack included tinned goods; pasta, flour and rice; kumara, potatoes and onions; tea, coffee and soap. Those who needed it, also received 10-litre containers of water. A team of Ngāpuhi, Civil Defence and Far North District Council volunteers gathered at the Kaikohe RSA and in full protective gear, worked solidly for two days to create the manaaki packs. Volunteers then delivered the packs assisted by Council vehicles and drivers.

This is just one example of how the people of the Far North have rallied during this unprecedented health emergency. It has been great to see our people team-up with agencies, such as Civil Defence, Work and Income and the Council, to provide help where and when it’s required in the safest way possible.

Moving to Level 3 restrictions will help ease the need, but it will be weeks yet before anyone is back to normal. The Council is offering increased levels of service. We cannot yet provide residents with face-to-face services at our libraries, i-SITEs or service centres, however, we are providing greater support to the hospitality and building sectors. Transfer stations are also now accepting recyclables, except plastics and cans, which have to be manually sorted. Please check the FNDC website for updates on services available under Level 3.