Waikato Regional Council Chair’s donation supports families during lockdown

Covid-19 lockdown was an unprecedented and stressful time for many communities. For K’aute Pasifika Trust, a Waikato not-for-profit their response was to provide free care packages to the Waikato community.

The free care packages included food, clothing and heaters and were delivered to over 1300 people. Despite the fact that foodbanks is not part of their core service, for K’aute Pasifika it was important to respond to the immediate need.

Leaupepe Rachel Karalus, chief executive of K’aute Pasifika said “The reality for many vulnerable families in our community during COVID-19 lockdown and now, is that they need immediate help. We exist to serve our community and were in a privileged position to do something practical”.

Being able to provide an immediate response to COVID-19, would not have been possible without the generosity and support of many Waikato organisations. Donations to support the care packages came from local and central government and private companies. People also volunteered their time.

Support was received from a range of individuals from the Waikato community including chair of Waikato Regional Council, Russ Rimmington. Cr Rimmington personally chose to redirect 20 per cent of his income over six months to K’aute Pasifika Trust.

“My wife, Edwina, and I have a strong connection to the Pacific, having operated a steel manufacturing company and apprenticeship programme in the Cook Islands over 17 years. I first became aware of K’aute Pasifika Trust as Mayor of Hamilton in 1999, when I had the opportunity to meet the trust’s founder. I was in great awe of what they did, and continue to do, to serve the Pacific community in this region.

“That’s why it was a no-brainer for me to throw my support behind the trust now. All our communities have in some way been impacted by COVID-19 and it was important to me to do what extra I could for such an organisation,” Cr Rimmington said.

Karalus said: “Without the support and generosity of individuals including Cr Rimmington, we would not have been able to achieve what we did. We did not do it alone, it was a tremendous collective effort. It is heartening to know that during such a stressful time, those who are in positions of influence in our community are looking out for the most vulnerable”.

K’aute Pasifika were able to support people from a broad cross-section of the community including elderly people living on their own and unable to go to the supermarket, solo mothers living in motels, and people who had lost their jobs or had their hour’s reduced. They also delivered medication to people who did not have transport to pick up themselves.

A Hamilton widow who we will call Ana, and her two adult children received a care package from K’aute Pasifika. Ana’s extended family were staying with her during lockdown as they were unable to return to Tonga.

“I tried my best to manage my bills. Our only income is my sickness benefit which is what I’m using to support my family,” said Ana. Ana’s two adult children were both unable to continue working during lockdown. This only added extra financial pressure for the family.

“Before we got help from K’aute Pasifika, we weren’t coping. Any of the leftover money we had I used to buy bare essentials like flour, sausages. We were surprised when someone knocked on our door. I opened it and was greeted by staff from K’aute Pasifika delivering a care package. We are very thankful for their help,” said Ana.