Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Breaking down pandemic barriers Breaking down pandemic barriers Skip to content

Breaking down pandemic barriers

Breaking down pandemic barriers

  • 20 Jun 2022
thumbnail thumbnail IMG 0911 v2

(Picture caption: Niuvaka Trust's care packs are assisting Pacific families in the Horowhenua and Manawatu Regions.) 

Alleviating pressure from Pacific families needing to self-isolate during the pandemic has become the focus of Palmerston North-based Niuvaka Trust. 

While the pandemic has presented many challenges to Pacific people in Aotearoa, having to self-isolate due to a COVID-19 positive case in the household brought with it new obstacles, including accessing essential items. 

Niuvaka Trust – established off the back of the first lockdown in New Zealand to support Pacific communities in the Horowhenua and Manawatu Regions - mapped out what the organisation could do to prevent these barriers arising. 

Operations Manager for the Trust Courtney Manu says although faced with challenges, the community were resourceful when it came to finding support over the past two years. 

“Niuvaka could see Pacific families needed support with being prepared for self-isolation with COVID…along with regional shortages of essential everyday items,” Courtney says. 

After researching what help was available to them, the  team successfully applied for round one of the Pacific Aotearoa Community Outreach Delta Response Fund in 2021, aimed at enabling more frequent and responsive engagements between government and Pacific communities to keep Pacific peoples informed and supported in the transition to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights). 

Courtney, whose role it is to organise the supply of COVID and Educational Packs and to help the team distribute them directly to the community, says the Trust wanted to provide crucial items which could aid with COVID and safe self-isolation practices as rolled out by the Government. 

“If the general public were having issues accessing products, our Pasifika Aiga would also be facing similar and worse scenarios, so we wanted to be able to provide a no barriers approach to getting them the right products.” 

With a $30,000 grant from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), Niuvaka Trust secured bulk amounts of essential goods from local suppliers so families could have free access to items for when and if they need to self-isolate. 

“This has taken pressure off the families while self-isolating, so they can look after themselves and those in their household without needing to source items or leave their houses,” Courtney says. 

Two separate care packs for families have been created - a COVID Care,  including lozenges, Panadol, toothbrushes, toothpastes, Vicks, Rapid Antigen Tests, masks, sanitizers and other crucial items, while a second pack includes educational resources for children in the house self-isolating.  

“The idea behind this pack was to support Parents with the right tools to keep their kids occupied and entertained and to take the load off the parents during what could be a difficult time.” 

To date, Niuvaka Trust’s COVID Care Pack initiative has already helped over 600 families within the Manawatu and Horowhenua regions, and the Trust has also distributed 400 Educational Packs to families. 

“We have seen a huge success in the care packs and have decided we want to continue this momentum but pivot the COVID Care Pack to a long term First Aid Kit or Household Emergency Kit which can be stored in the house and has multiple uses. 

“The purpose behind this next campaign will be to support our families to have conversations around what to do in an emergency, how to be prepared and how to plan for these instances.” 

This initiative was made possible with MPP funding as well as a huge collective effort from the Manawatu and Horowhenua community.

Round two of the Pacific Aotearoa Community Outreach Omicron Response Fund is currently open, and MPP is encouraging groups and individuals with initiatives in mind, to apply.

Visit the MPP website for more information.

Applications close on June 30.