I’m glad the Government have rolled out a $12 billion package in response to the pandemic currently sweeping the world.
It is a strong package that boosts health care ability, puts money into beneficiary pockets, props up business and extends heating subsidies.
It’s a great first step, but when we consider the possible damage a pandemic will cause in NZ, it feels lacking.
Māori are prone to respiratory disease at far higher levels than Pākehā, this pandemic will hit them hardest as it also targets people with chronic illness, which Māori again are over-represented in.
The plans for prisons, which are overwhelmingly made up of Māori, are to simply lock the doors and allow the pandemic to sweep through once services are overwhelmed and the communal living culture of Māori are simply not possible at a time of social distancing.
The enormity of what will hit if this disease gets into New Zealand is still being underestimated and that is especially true of how it will impact Māori.
NZ has a terrible history of virus incompetence from the infection of Samoa at the end of World War 1 to the recent measles epidemic, and it’s always the poorest amongst us who pay the highest price.
We need far more support and information out to Community leaders with clear guidance of what to do when the pandemic sweeps through so that the shock of mass sickness doesn’t stun us into non-action.
We must appreciate this is a once in a generation event and start taking it seriously, we can not afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.