Iwi organisations have joined forces with Māori fishing companies Sealord and Moana New Zealand to help whānau in need in response to COVID-19.
The fishing companies are providing seafood and ready-to-eat meals to iwi organisations at less than cost price. Sealord, 50% owned by iwi, has contributed more than 8 tonne of battered and crumbed seafood portions to over 30 different iwi. Moana New Zealand (100% iwi-owned) has provided almost 13,000 ready-to-eat meals to iwi to date.
A number of iwi organisations supporting whānau suffering hardship due to COVID-19 have taken up the offer.
The Iwi Collective Partnership has 20 iwi members throughout the North Island. ICP General Manager Maru Samuels said the Collective had been looking for ways to help members with the essentials of life during such difficult times, so the offer came as welcome news.
“To have supermarket quality items offered to iwi at very reasonable prices was really appreciated,” says Samuels.
“We promoted the offer within our 20 iwi, and the feedback and uptake has been really positive. In the 15 years I’ve been involved in iwi Māori fisheries, this is one of the standout social actions I’ve seen.”
A number of other iwi organisations have also been pleased to offer Sealord’s products as part of support packages to help hapū and whānau get through.
Alan Riwaka, CEO of Te Runanga o Ngāti Whātua – which covers the area between Auckland and Whangarei – praised the collaborative effort involved in providing food for whānau.
Through the arrangement, three tonnes of Sealord’s crumbed hoki, enough to make up 21,000 meals, went into food packages for those struggling as a result of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
“Our primary purpose is to look after our people, and distributing food and providing essential health services is an important part of that”, says Riwaka, who stresses that in its COVID-19 response, Ngāti Whātua has been working together with other iwi in the Northland region, including the country’s largest – Ngā Puhi – as well as with crown agencies and non-government departments, to coordinate the most effective outcome.
“Within the Tai Tokerau region we have the bulk of New Zealand’s Māori population, so it’s been important to work together and make sure we’re getting the food packs to those who are most vulnerable,” he adds.
Many have been unable to access essentials like groceries and health services through their usual channels, and have taken a hit financially, finding themselves struggling to put food on the table, Riwaka says.
“We’re really grateful to our Māori fishing companies for what they’ve done. I think it’s fantastic that they are supporting iwi around the country.”
“COVID19 has been a really tough time for our Te Arawa whānau” says Te Arawa Fisheries Chief Executive Chris Karamea Insley.
“One real positive that has come out of these tough times has been to see all our Te Arawa whānau, our Trusts, Incorporations, our hapū and the three post-settlement governance entities all come together and unite to support each other. The Kaupapa was to support and manaaki our people, especially our koroua, kuia and other whānau doing it tough and needing help and support.”
“Te Arawa Fisheries was proud to step-up and help source fish through our connections such as the Iwi Collective Partnership, Moana New Zealand and Sealord to put fish and meat in the kete with the chickens and other kai for our whānau” he says.
“That is part of the purpose of these large organisations – to help give kai to our whānau through these tough times. Me whakamohio tatou te whakatauki e ki- ana: ‘Nau te raurau, naku te raurau, ka ora ai te Iwi’’.
Sealord Chief Operating Officer Doug Paulin says the company realises the level of suffering in the wider community, and wants to do as it much as it can to help.
“As a food manufacturer, Sealord has been in a privileged position continuing operations since the beginning of lockdown. We’ve been acutely aware that many businesses have not been so fortunate and people are struggling.
“Working together with our partners Moana New Zealand and Te Ohu Kaimoana, we want to support all those iwi organisations who are doing an incredible job on the frontline helping those less fortunate. Getting our communities through this is going to take a team effort and we’re keen to be part of that,” he says.
Better known for premium kaimoana (seafood), Moana New Zealand’s ready to eat meals are made using locally sourced products and are packed with carefully balanced nutrition.
Moana New Zealand CEO Steve Tarrant says “Helping our shareholders in a time of need is simply the right thing to do. The long shelf life of these high-quality ready to eat meals make them an ideal supplement to care packages in these uncertain times we find ourselves in. Because they don’t need refrigeration, it’s one less worry for volunteers putting the packages together.”
“Ready to Eat meals is just one part of the support Moana New Zealand has offered. There have been a number of different ways we’ve been able help based on specific needs, be it assistance with transport, storage and distribution of fish through projects like Kai Ika.”