Chris Webber & Māori Provider Recovery

As we transition along with the Government COVID19 Alert Level System, planning for recovery will be a priority to continue providing much-needed services for the future that we want. We have asked Te Rau Ora Director Chris Webber, a Māori Public Health expert for his thoughts on the Recovery phase for Māori providers.

Many providers were unprepared for COVID 19 and may not have had a Pandemic Plan, let alone a working knowledge of emergency responses. However, providers in regions impacted by past emergencies may have learnt from their experience of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) responses. Nelson–Marlborough for example, grew relationships between Civil Defence, local Marae, Māori and communities following earthquakes there and now has iwi liaison and wrap-around welfare in its emergency response process.

According to CDEM recovery guidance, “Whakaoranga is the process for rescue, recovery and restoration of sustainable wellbeing. It should be underpinned by kaupapa Māori, informed by matauranga Māori and carried out as tikanga Māori“. While doing this, Chris says Māori providers have three challenges – how to stay afloat/manage their organisation, how to continue meeting contracts, and how to do the best job in their communities according to local realities. He suggests three areas of focus:

1. Plan – Have a good up-to-date business continuity plan, including the various needs of the organisation/staff/stakeholders/community, ways of working, communications, MOUs with buddy organisations, resources.
2. Strategy – Develop resilience and innovation by synergising with others now and participating in recovery efforts as they evolve (includes agency support packages and working with local recovery efforts of CDEM/community groups)
3. Risk – Continue to predict and respond to risk about areas of operation as COVID-19 is managed over the next two years – the risk of infection, risk of losing staff, funding and relied upon essential supplies/services.

The four Rs continue to apply for each phase of risk identified – Reduce, Ready, Respond, Recover. ‘Recovery’ is a special phase legislated to enable local CDEM managers to carry out functions with local groups once a state of emergency is lifted. Recovery should:

● Support the cultural, emotional and physical wellbeing of individuals and communities

● Minimise the escalation of the consequences of emergencies

● Reduce future exposure to hazards and their associated risks – i.e. build resilience

● Take opportunities to regenerate and enhance communities in ways that will meet future needs (across the social, economic, natural and built environments).

One question Māori providers could consider while working with CDEM is – Does recovery ‘business as usual’ build the resilience we need or can a ‘Whakaoranga’ approach foster the sustainable wellbeing we want for our communities? There will be more trials to come.

We are keen to hear from Māori Providers: please click Here to complete this mini-survey.

Māori Emergency COVID19 Clearing House for Kaitiaki Māori resources and support can be found Here.

Chris Webber can be contacted at