When COVID-19 struck, Rebecca Mason CA realised this was her time to step up for whānau, iwi and the entire waka across the Top of the South.
In 2014 Rebecca had returned from London where she had held a pan European role with GlaxoSmithKline. She built Meihana Consulting back on home ground in Nelson.
Already a kaitiaki (trustee) of her iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia when COVID -19 hit, Rebecca volunteered to coordinate a COVID-19 response team – Rōpū Kōkiri a-Iwi – on behalf of the eight iwi of Te Tauihu. The rōpū (group) has three teams which focus on manaaki (wellbeing), communication, and tikanga (cultural).
Work on the ground is varied and includes providing kai parcels to people in need and connecting whānau with key agencies.
It's about being involved in decision making and influencing outcomes. It's not just about being heard.
On a big picture level, the rōpū and the eight iwi it represents have people sitting on strategic agency forums including Nelson Marlborough Health, Nelson Tasman and Marlborough Civil Defence emergency management groups and Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu (Whānau Ora). They are also working with Te Piki Oranga and other Māori health providers.
"Much of what I'm doing is to ensure that Māori have a voice in COVID-19," says Rebecca. "It's about being involved in decision making and influencing outcomes. It's not just about being heard."
COVID-19 is shining a light on inequity that is often never seen or appropriately acknowledged. She notes that some families are having an easier time than others. "On the other side of that great divide there are families that are just beside themselves."
"We really need some of these stories to come out, and we all need to stand up and to work together to do something about it. We are all in this waka together."
COVID-19 Resources hub
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