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Indigenous people’s role during Covid-19 recognised

The crucial role of indigenous people’s knowledge, voice and wisdom during and after Covid-19 is being recognised on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, today. (Aug 9)

HPF joins the rest of the world in commemorating today which this year has the theme ‘COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience’.

Since the outbreak, indigenous peoples have been seeking their own solutions and implementing preventive and protective measures, such as voluntary isolation, and sealing off their territories. The day promotes these good practices throughout the world.

“Around the world, indigenous people have been at the forefront in demanding environmental and climate action,” says the UN Secretary General António Guterres in his message to mark the day.

“Realising the rights of indigenous peoples means ensuring their inclusion and participation in Covid-19 response and recovery strategies … indigenous peoples must be consulted in all efforts to build back after the pandemic stronger and recover better.”

HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi says while we still have a few roads to walk, New Zealand is a world leader in all Indigenous matters. “In light of the current social, ecological and health crisis the world is facing, the day is an ideal time, on a national level, for New Zealanders to reflect on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and our pre and post-Treaty history, and work together.”

He says this would be key to helping us recover and advance, rather than recover and slide back. “Ultimately, on a world level, we have to reorganise our heart and mind around our new reality of a one planet, one people with all the collective beauty of unity in diversity. This should be our new paradigm if we are to survive, thrive and flourish in a post-Covid 19 reality. The pre-Covid-19 status quo worked for some, but certainly not for all.

“Our common destiny is entangled and entwined. Covid-19 is showing us this new reality. Either we live together, or we die together. Our common destiny is entangled and entwined. Covid-19 is showing us this new reality. Either we live together, or we die together.”

In Aoteroa NZ many Māori mobilised to respond to Covid-19 in their communities in various ways including helping to coordinate their own checkpoints.

HPF’s Maori Health Promotion Strategist Mereana Te Pere  volunteered at a Waitaha Iwi checkpoint in Te Puke, Bay of Plenty. The iwi had support from the local police, who provided guidelines of what iwi could and could not do. This checkpoint was made in an effort to protect the high number of kaumatua and kuia with underlying health conditions. who are susceptible to illnesses, and the rest of the whanau.

Meanwhile the day would also be a good time to reflect on the Waiora – Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development from last year’s World Health Promotion Conference in Rotorua.