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Friday 14 August 2020


Government reminded to practice what it preaches and "be kind"

The Government’s decision to demand that people who test COVID positive be sent to a Government quarantine facility may be detrimental to fighting COVID-19 in a number of our communities. 


While Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā agrees that isolation of people with COVID-19 is an essential component of managing COVID-19 community transmission, they call for the Government to re-think their strategy of making this compulsory and reminds them to “be kind”. 


Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co-leader Professor Papaarangi Reid says the Government needs to provide mana-enhancing and supportive ways to manage COVID-19, rather than approaches that could be seen as punitive.


“We believe that health agencies should negotiate with whānau how best to achieve isolation of cases who test positive, including the option of going to a Government quarantine facility if this works for them,” Professor Reid said. 


“The Government’s decision to place anyone who tests positive into a Government quarantine facility is patronising and counter-intuitive when working with Māori and Pacific communities.”


Te Rōpū Whakauapapa Urutā stresses the significant and constructive role that Māori and Pacific communities played in managing the initial outbreak of COVID-19, preventing spread and supporting communities and therefore communities should be trusted to share in this decision-making.


“We have demonstrated the ability and commitment of Māori and Pacific communities to stand up and do what is needed to protect ourselves from COVID-19. In the earliest days of COVID-19 in Aotearoa, our communities led the on-the-ground responses while the Government was still floundering. 


“Our whānau want to protect our households and our communities. No-one is more committed to keeping our whānau safe than us. But we want to be involved in those decisions – we don’t want to put others at risk, but we want to ensure other whānau members, especially children and kaumātua are well supported.” 


“We question the Government’s decision and dispute that there is good evidence that heavy handed approaches are effective, and we are concerned that they may increase mistrust.”


“COVID-19 is a public health issue and if we are to truly get this pandemic under control, it requires a robust and positive public health response, rather than a punitive one. We insist on partnership and reject paternalism.”

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā expects the Government to form meaningful relationships with Iwi and Pasifika leaders that includes shared decision-making about matters that affect our peoples, work directly with community organisations, such as Whānau Ora agencies, to provide on-the-ground support and most importantly, trust that Māori and Pacific peoples will do what is right. 


“We are also surprised with such a significant deviation from the Government’s original approach and one does wonder whether the change is in relation to current cases being predominantly from Māori and Pacific communities – this did not happen when most of the COVID cases were Pākehā.”


"He māmore rākau e taea te tōpeke ake; tēnā he wai moana e kore e taea te rere"

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