An innovative collaboration between Te Arawa Covid-19 Hub, Ministry of Social Development and Lakes DHB has been launched to help connect whānau with jobs.
The partnership has come about as part of Te Arawa’s Covid-19 response and sees three Iwi Relationship Co-ordinators being physically located at Te Arawa Lakes Trust in Rotorua – two from MSD and one from Lakes DHB.
Their role is to support whānau through social services support, learning and development, employment, wellbeing and more.
Te Arawa Covid-19 Hub lead, Karen Vercoe says Rotorua has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 crisis, largely due to the city’s reliance on the tourism sector.
“Manaakitanga is at the heart of Te Arawa – we have been welcoming and hosting manuhiri (visitors) for hundreds of years and as such, large numbers of Te Arawa whānau have been working in tourism and hospitality.
“Unfortunately, these are the jobs that were hit hardest by the initial Covid response with hundreds of people out of work as a result.
“However, we are resilient and we have adapted to our changing environment for centuries – and we will do so again," Karen says.
"Where one door has closed there are others that are opening and our goal is to support whānau into new jobs and industries, and ultimately create a positive flow-on benefit for everyone in our community.”
She says a critical component of Te Arawa’s response to Covid was the development of an urgent data project, which enabled the iwi to identify whānau needs across the rohe and beyond.
“Within just a few weeks of lockdown, we were able to connect with whānau, identify their location and understand their needs – whether that was kai, mahi, health requirements or something else.
“By collecting, collating and coordinating data and information during the lockdown we are now in a position to provide support where it is most needed. As a result, our immediate target is to get more than 260 whānau into jobs as soon as possible, and then we can cast our net wider.”
Ms Vercoe says she is thrilled with the response from both MSD and Lakes DHB to the initiative.
Bay of Plenty Regional Commissioner for Social Development, Mike Bryant says the agency is focused on bringing about positive changes in the wellbeing of the people, whānau and communities it serves.
“Sixty-seven per cent of our clients across Rotorua are Māori and we believe that working with hapū and iwi is the only way we can do this,” says Mike.
Lakes DHB chief executive officer Nick Saville-Wood says the DHB wanted to build on the work its people had done during Covid-19 – in addition to their day-to-day jobs.
“A large number of our people were actively involved in outreach throughout lockdown, which meant we were able to support and engage with our community on a completely different level.
“It makes sense to continue that work with whānau and to support greater outcomes across the board.
“One of our driving objectives is to support the development of flourishing whānau – but there are a wide range of factors that contribute to this, including employment, access to training and education, health support and more.
“Working alongside Te Arawa and MSD will help us all achieve even more,” Nick says.
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