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Ngati Porou plea

Letter asks whanau to think carefully about returning home for holidays.

Ngāti Porou whanau living out of the rohe have been asked to consider staying away from the East Coast over the Christmas and New Year period.

Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou chairman Selwyn Parata made the plea in an open letter addressed to “all our Ngati Porou whānau who live away from home”.

“Ngāti Porou are daring and adventurous in the tradition of our tipuna Maui Tikitiki.

“We have spread far and wide across Aotearoa and the world in pursuit of opportunities and endeavours that contribute to our wellbeing and prosperity.

“I know that travelling home for Christmas and New Year is the highlight of the year for many of us.

“It is a time to catch up with whānau, parents, siblings, children, aunties and uncles, cousins, our pakeke, new additions to the whanau and old friends.

“It is a time to enjoy our special parts of paradise and to reconnect with our hapu and marae.

“It is a time to download, de-stress, and have a well deserved holiday. E hoki koe ki o maunga, ki o awa kia puehutia e nga hau o Tawhirimatea”

“Unfortunately, the hospitality and beauty of home during the holiday period masks a poor reality for our hau kaenga year-round.

“The reality is that our region and our people have some of the worst health, wellbeing and social statistics in Aotearoa. We also have one of the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates across all of Aotearoa's DHBs (district health boards).

“There are many people working long hours, doing the best they can, to turn around those statistics, but it will take time to reverse a situation caused by deepseated and long-standing inequities.

“Our region's health services struggle to service our people as it is now without the very real threat of Covid-19.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that health services will be overwhelmed when Covid-19 arrives in our region.

“Ngāti Porou people will be at the worst end of that struggle. Some of us will become seriously ill and some of us may die.

“I am therefore asking you to think carefully about your plans for the holiday period.

“If you want to come home to Ngāti Porou, please consider the health and wellbeing of your whānau back here.

“Please consider how you would feel if you brought Covid-19 on holiday with you.

“Please remember that our region's services will struggle to look after you and your whanau if you become unwell.

“However, if you must come home, please be double vaccinated and ensure you have a copy of your vaccine pass.

“Please consider having a Covid-19 test before you leave and think about limiting your movements for a short time when you arrive in Te Tairāwhiti. We will all be safer if you are able to do these things, and we would love to see you home, safely.

“If you are unable to do these things, for whatever reason, please be less adventurous and consider staying where you are for the time being. We will gladly welcome you home again when the time is safe for all of us.”

Mr Parata's letter comes just a week after Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui asked for those who do not whakapapa to it to refrain from going into their rohe this summer.

The iwi also encouraged people to get a negative test before returning to the area.

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui spokesperson Louis Rapihana told RNZ's Checkpoint the iwi's request for holiday visitors to stay away was partly prompted by local businesses.

Novel coronavirus. File picture