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Opotiki rangatahi – teens lead weekend Covid-19 effort

From last month weekend Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) distribution in Opotiki was being led by three local rangatahi – Kanoa Rewiri (17), Trista Hudson (16) and Hoana Paruru (17). Supported by Te Ao Trust, KŌ Kollective Trust, and Opotiki Our Way, the three Opotiki rangatahi are part of a community effort to ensure local whānau have access to RATs during the weekend and are supported to isolate.

RATs are the main testing method being used to detect Covid-19 if you have symptoms or are a household contact. It is a self-administered nasal swab test, and a result is available in about 20 minutes.

Because RATs are part of the Covid-19 public health response, they are free for those that need them, and their distribution is being centrally managed.

People can request RATs online or by phone and then pick them up with minimal contact.

Opotiki rangatahi are key to the local effort to ensure that RATs are available 7 days a week. “It’s been a great opportunity to give back to the community, help whānau and learn some new skills”, says Kanoa Rewiri.

With the Covid-19 surge, rangatahi stepped up to mahi aroha, or volunteer, providing additional support during the weekend.

As well as RATs distribution, the rangatahi are helping pack kai, delivering kai to whānau, and checking in with whānau who are isolating.

“It’s an extension of what I do at home. Sometimes I do the shopping and drop off groceries. I am doing the same thing but just for other whānau,” says Hoana Paruru.

“I like being able to help keep whānau safe. It feels good to know that I am doing some positive to help others,” says Trista Hudson.

Local Opotiki voluntary and community organisations are looking to work with rangatahi to build on the mahi aroha work undertaken as part of Covid-19 recovery.

Overseas experiences show that Covid-19 is likely to remain in the community for a long time. New solutions and responses are needed as communities adapt and learn to live with Covid-19 as part of everyday life.

“These young wahine are an inspiration. They remind us that part of being a member of our Opotiki community is to extend our hearts and our time to help others in need when we can.

Engaging the good will of rangatahi and local whānau who wish to give their time and volunteer must be a key feature of our local Opotiki response as we recover from Covid-19,” says KŌ Kollective Trust Executive Chair, Shannon Hanrahan.

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