September 21, 2020
Civil Defence learns to embrace Maori
COVID-19 has caused a rethink in Civil Defence that puts Māori and other minority communities in the spotlight.
Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare says when he picked up the portfolio last year there was a strong relationship with Ngāi Tahu in the South Island because of past earthquake and flood responses, but only ad hoc arrangements with Māori groups in the North Island.
The first COVID lockdown forced people to come together to make sure Māori were at the decision-making table, and the lessons learned were applied to the second wave.
"Our strength is in our community roots so this time around in the second wave here in Tāmaki Makaurau for example our job was to support the community whereas in the first wave our job was to coordinate and facilitate and even distribute kai but now it's quite clear and it's by force of the likes of myself and strong community leadership that we said we have got to trust community," Mr Henare says.
More work needs to be done to ensure Civil Defence can serve people with disabilities, Pacific communities and other minorities who in emergencies may need communications in other languages than English.
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