Supporting Kaikōura residents

WelCom July 2020: Lisa Beech During Covid-19 lockdown Te Tai o Marokura social services – a community organisation of the Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura – partnered with the Archdiocese of…

WelCom July 2020:

Lisa Beech

Te Tai o Marokura social services (l–r): Riria Allen, Hariata Kahu, Becky Manawatu, Jaana Kahu, Fr Jeff Drane sm, Lisa Kahu.
Photo: Supplied

During Covid-19 lockdown Te Tai o Marokura social services – a community organisation of the Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura – partnered with the Archdiocese of Wellington and Sacred Heart Parish Kaikōura, to support families with warm homes and food.

Takahanga Marae is one of the marae in the Archdiocese with longstanding Catholic connections.

Te Tai o Marokura Kaiāwhina Lisa Kahu said the lockdown was the second civil-defence emergency experienced by Kaikōura residents in less than four years. ‘Most people are still rebuilding their lives after the 2016 earthquake. Now tourism businesses have been hit hard again.’ 

The social service agency identified kai and heating as the most pressing needs for the community during lockdown. ‘Many had not had the opportunity to restock stores since 2016 and several families were in hardship at Christmas as work on the rebuild was winding down,’ Lisa said.

With support from Archdiocesan Kaikōura earthquake funds, administered by Wellington Catholic Social Services, Te Tai o Marokura social service worked with Sacred Heart Parish and other local groups to deliver meat packs and hygiene-cleaning products. ‘It was important for us to reach out through the parish because we knew people were struggling. It made sense for our support to be delivered by someone within the church who had a relationship with those being visited.’

The beginning of lockdown coincided with the first cold snap of the year. Te Tai o Marokura social service loaned all their office heaters and have been supplying firewood, heaters, winter pyjamas and wool hats to families.

Lisa said although lockdown restrictions have lifted and the government has announced a $15 million boost to keep Kaikōura tourism operators running, the early end to the tourism season caught short part-time and temporary workers who live on summer earnings through winter. With residents home more than usual, some families couldn’t afford to turn on heaters. 

‘We have real concern for people living with the same outgoings as three months ago on a much lower government subsidy wage. We know people are just one or two pays away from being unable to keep up with their debt. Buying firewood or preparing for winter is not a reality for many this year. Our requests for support with basics such as food have never been so high and we are seeing parts of our community who have never asked for help before.

‘If I could I would give knitted slippers and warm socks to everyone I visit. I know the value of everyone –especially our elderly and children – having warm feet, Lisa said. ‘If knitters in the Archdiocese have some spare wool, we’d love to distribute homemade slippers to help keep Kaikōura whānau warm over the winter months.’ 

Knitted slippers can be posted direct to Te Tai o Marokura social services, Takahanga Marae, Takahanga Tce, Kaikōura 7300.

Lisa Beech is Ecology, Justice and Peace Adviser, Archdiocese of Wellington.