Media advisory #21 How helplines are helping out


14 April 2020


Whanganui’s Emergency Operations Centre Welfare Manager Lauren Tamehana says her team has been receiving around a dozen calls a day on the Council’s welfare line, or via Horizons 0800 number.

She says, “Most calls are for food and medication and other household goods like bedding and heating, although we have had a couple of calls for other unusual things like help with lawn mowing and concerns over the dumping of rubbish - and lots of requests for pet food.”

The welfare team calls back everyone who has rung the welfare line and talks to them about their needs. Lauren Tamehana says sometimes all that’s required is a friendly call, or providing correct information.

“We have a team working hard to deliver food parcels to people that need them and we also have a health liaison representative working with the welfare team to help with any medical enquiries that come in.

“Our team is out shopping every day and then packing food and delivering in the afternoons so that people ave enough to keep them going.”

She says there is also a huge number of support agencies helping the community. “Some of these have been working from the beginning of lockdown, phoning their clients and supporting them with food or just a reassuring phone call. Many agencies are still operating, but now their work is over the phone or via zoom meetings.”

Lauren Tamehana says, “The Koha Shed has been supporting the community with food packs and places like Age Concern, Alzheimers Whanganui and many others are helping with shopping for their clients.”

“We have delivered close to 50 food parcels and the Foodbank has given out nearly 200 since 16 March.”

She says Whanganui District Council was approached at the beginning of the lockdown by several businesses that had surplus stock available and was able to connect them with other agencies.

Te Ranga Tupua is an iwi collective made up of iwi extending across the Ruapehu, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and South Taranaki districts. The iwi work together regularly on matters of mutual interest.

In response to the Covid 19 outbreak, Te Ranga Tupua developed a Pandemic Response Plan, focused on supporting their people and the wider community across health, social and economic spheres. Provision of timely and accurate information as well as advocacy to authorities for iwi and community needs, also feature in the work of Te Ranga Tupua.

Te Oranganui Trust, an iwi health and social service provider that serves most of the districts covered by Te Ranga Tupua, is carrying out much of the work on the ground.

“We have a Response Hub 0800 number which is open 24/7,” says Te Oranganui Chief Executive Officer Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata. “Staff have been busy making contact with whānau across the region, delivering care and health packs to iwi organisations as well as kaumātua and whānau who are in need. They are also linking people up with a range of other services and support.”

Over the past three weeks, the team in the Response Hub has had contact with over 2000 whānau, has handed out over 900 care packs to kaumatua and whānau and has assisted more than 200 people who have made contact via the 0800 number.

Lauren Tamehana advises people not to visit supermarkets or pharmacies if they are aged 70 or above, or vulnerable or at high risk due to pre-existing health conditions.

“Please phone or use the internet to contact a friend, neighbour or whānau member who can do your grocery shopping or collect medication for you. If you don’t have anyone in your support network who is able to do this, please contact one of our welfare teams.”

There are several ways to get support from across the Whanganui region if you need it. If you already use existing, please continue to do so, but if you require additional support, the following welfare teams can help:

Whanganui District - call 06 349 0001 - this line operates 8am to 5pm with an after-hours response outside
these hours.
Horizons – call 0800 725 678 – this line is available from 7am until 7pm, seven days a week.
Ruapehu south (Waimarino) - call 06 385 8364 – this line is available 24/7.
Te Ranga Tupua Collective Iwi Response for help, advice and support for whānau in the Whanganui,
Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, Otaihape and South Taranaki Region - call 0800 202 004 – this line is available 24/7.

For more information
 To keep up to date with local information about important health information and services in the
Whanganui Region visit or
 For national information visit  or

If you are unwell
 If you have flu symptoms, phone the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
 If you are going to your general practice (GP) – phone first.
 If you are so unwell you need to come to Whanganui Hospital’s emergency department – please
phone first on 06 348 1300.