Northland COVID-19 Recovery Fund

The Northland COVID-19 Recovery Fund (Northland COVID-19 Fund) was created in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Funding went towards essential services supporting our most vulnerable Northland communities dealing with COVID-19, and to Northland DHB patients struggling to cope with the health and economic effects of COVID-19 on top of their existing health problems.

Over $100,000 was raised in donations from generous organisations, businesses and individuals. Our heartfelt thanks goes to all those who gave to help our most vulnerable communities through a difficult time. The effect of your generosity on those who received a grant from the fund is immense.

The Northland COVID-19 Recovery Fund is now closed to donations. Thanks again to all those who offered their support.

In 2020, grants for essential services were allocated via recommendations from a select Panel including Northland District Health Board, Civil Defence and Ministry of Social Development. Funding was prioritised for services that provided welfare support for vulnerable people, families, the elderly, kuia and kaumātua who live in rural and isolated communities. Through 2020 to 2022, vulnerable patients were identified by social workers and were provided with grants of up to $500 towards food, petrol vouchers, and other essential items to support their wellbeing. A portion of the donations was also used to provide hospital staff with an extra-special Christmas lunch to say thanks for the amazing effort they put in to care for their patients under such difficult circumstances.

Claire Nyberg (Northland Regional Council Civil Defence Emergency Management Officer Welfare) commented :

“Northland Community Foundation has been a great resource for the community as another avenue of funding available to support those providing assistance to the community. It was great to be one of the panel members of the Northland COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and know that recipients of the fund were able to use these funds to directly help the most vulnerable in our community,”

Dr Nick Chamberlain (Northland DHB Chief Executive) recommended support for the 2020 Patient Support Fund:

“The Patient Support Fund is providing much needed support to patients across Northland,” “Since coming out of Level 4, our social workers are identifying patients who are experiencing intense financial stress. COVID-19 is having a ripple effect for many whānau in the community. We know that there are sub-standard living conditions throughout Northland especially in isolated communities, so this fund has alleviated some of the pressure and hardship being experienced. The fund supports older people with getting basic living requirements such as warm clothing, heaters and food.”

NCF’s first grant was made in April 2020 in response to an immediate need within the Moerewa community. NCF provided $5,000 in funding to He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust (HIKTT) to continue to provide care packs to residents living in and around Moerewa. These care packs consist of essentials such as flour, bread, eggs, fruits, vegetables, kumaras and hygiene products. They were distributed to vulnerable families and the elderly in the community. Over 1000 packs were given out between March and August 2020. Moerewa is a small town in Northland about five kilometres to the West of Kawakawa. It has a population of approximately 1,500 and over 88 percent of its residents are Maori. The town has been battling with unemployment and poverty due to restructuring and the loss of rural services over the years. These pre-existing conditions compounded with the current COVID-19 situation have made life even harder for the locals living in Moerewa. Pamela-Anne Ngohe-Simon, Coordinator for HIKTT, believes that they are:

“not only providing residents of Moerewa, Matawaia, Opahi and Orauta with essentials but most importantly, delivering hope and aroha!” “It is totally necessary for our people to feel a sense of belonging and know that we are here to help. We want to show our community that we care and value each one of them. These packs are an expression of who we are, packaged up in love that our people are able to receive,”

Chairman of HIKTT, Ngahau Davis said,

“this project has been a collaboration of collective goodwill from many people and organisations.”

He is very grateful and wants to thank all the volunteers, partners and everyone who have made this project possible. As the Maori proverb states:

“Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi”

With your basket and my basket, the people will thrive.

Mr Davis reminded us that with cooperation and combination of resources, we can get ahead!

Picture 1: He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust (HIKTT) delivering food parcels to people in need in Moerewa. 

NCF also granted $5000 to One Double Five Community House for their 155 Open Arms service so that they could continue to feed the homeless and many vulnerable families in Whangarei.  155 Open Arms – Te Ruruhau Onga Ringa Ringa Tuwhera is the day care centre in Whangarei that provides food, shelter and other services for people who are homeless or living rough. It is a place where people in crisis can connect with various health, housing and community services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing need for food parcels for vulnerable families and daily meals among the homeless in Whangarei.

“The requests for food parcels within our 155 Open Arms service have increased three-fold,” said CEO Liz Cassidy-Nelson. “We would appreciate support for our food bank so that we are able to continue providing this valuable service.”

Funds also went towards providing daily meals for the homeless to consume off-site (takeaways), and for those that One Double Five is unable to house but continue to be living rough. On average, around 36 people receive meals prepared at the 155 Open Arms Day Centre to take away daily.

Picture 2: CEO Liz Cassidy-Nelson packing food parcels. 

Multicultural Whangarei also received a grant to help new migrants and international students who did not qualify for government support and were unemployed during the time of crisis. They provided food vouchers and mobile top-up vouchers to these vulnerable groups so that they were not isolated and did not fall through the cracks.

“There is a high need for support during this difficult and challenging time,” said Jessie Manney, Manager of Multicultural Whangarei. “Many migrant cultures find it hard to ask for help, and when they do finally ask, they are in real desperate need. If we can provide them some help with the basics like food, it will make a huge difference to their lives.”

Migrants can be isolated even in good times and Multicultural Whangarei strives to help them feel included and a part of the Northland community through workshops, seminars and gatherings.

“For those without telephones or internet connectivity, they are even more isolated and lonely. We would like to help them stay connected to both their local community and their overseas families,” Jessie Manney added.

Picture 3: Multicultural Whangarei group photo.

The Northland COVID-19 Recovery Patient Support Fund provides vouchers worth up to $500 for petrol, food, or clothing/household goods to patients of Northland District Health Board (NDHB) Hospitals. Priority is given to older patients (55 years plus): who are living in rural or isolated areas, are in a difficult financial situation, have an acute or long-term health condition and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social workers and nurses from Northland hospitals will identify potential recipients of this fund. Dean Reihana was one of the recipients of the Patient Support Fund. Dean is 71 years old and lives alone in a council’s pensioner unit in Kawakawa. He has been on dialysis treatment for five years now. He is one of the patients who was granted financial assistance from the COVID-19 Patient Support Fund. Dean goes for dialysis treatment every other day at the hospital from 6:30am to 12:30pm.

“After lying down flat for five and a half hours, I often get very dizzy and need a rest when I get home. It takes a while for the blood to get back into the system. The aches and pains really go through one’s body and mind,” Dean says. He is “very happy and grateful” for the assistance he received for the power bill payment from the Patient Support Fund. “It is a big help to me!” he says. “The concrete building that my one-bedroom unit is in is very cold and I need heating to keep the unit warm.”

Picture 4: Dean Reihana receiving his dialysis treatment.

Although the Northland COVID-19 Recovery Fund is now closed to donations, communities across Te Tai Tokerau Northland continue to struggle with health issues, cost of living, and the effects of poverty. If you would like to make a difference, please consider giving to one of our other funds:

Please give your support today! Click here to donate now:

We realise everyone is under pressure right now, so we just want to remind you that you can receive a receipt and request 33 percent tax rebate from the government for your donation. Go to the IRD’s website to get your refund.

Thanks to a major anonymous donor, Foundation North, Tindall Foundation, Clare Foundation and the Warehouse Ltd, and all our other donors and contributors for your support of the Northland COVID-19 Recovery Fund: