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South Auckland locals hit back against online hate around NZ covid cases

Auckland City’s Manukau Ward councillor Alf Filipaina … disgusted by the unfair vitriol directed towards South Auckland. Image: Kethaki Masilamani/RNZ

By Jean Bell, RNZ News journalist

Some South Auckland locals are hitting back at online hate directed at the area and its Pasifika community, after a local family was the first to test positive for covid-19 in the current New Zealand outbreak.

Four positive cases ballooned to a 58-case cluster after 102 days of no community transmission.

Auckland City’s Manukau Ward councillor Alf Filipaina was disgusted by the unfair vitriol directed towards South Auckland and it’s Pacific community.

“Everybody knows this virus doesn’t pick on colour. Because we’re in the lower socio-economic area and we have bigger families, it actually goes through the whole family very quickly,” he said.

Aside from the threat of the virus, Filipaina said job security was a concern for people in the area.

“Some have said, ‘look, we don’t know – even though [the level 3 lock down] is until [August] 26 – whether we’ll have a job to go back to,” he said.

“That’s not a very good feeling.”

Negativity not representative
Otahuhu College principal Neil Watson did not think those spreading negativity online represented most people.

“The South Auckland and the Pasifika community here is a fantastically strong and powerful community with so much future,” he said.

“I think what you see on social media is always a small minority of people. What you see everyday in school and in our community is a fantastic community doing the very best to support and help each other.”

Bill Peace, operations manager for social service Strive Community Trust, said people now know what to expect from level 3.

Ōtara Covid-19 Testing Station 13 AugustA covid-19 testing centre in Ōtara. Image: RNZ

There was a rush to grocery stores when the latest lockdown was first announced.

But now, he said, people are feeling much calmer compared to the last lockdown.

“If there’s any long line its actually [for] the covid testing, that’s gone crazy.”

Peace called the online hate disappointing, but said he isn’t letting it get to him.

“We just think positive in that space. It’s our hood we’re talking about. We’re here from day one and we’ll continue to support our communities, regardless of what people are saying about them,” he said.

Testing centres in Ōtara and Mangere have been seeing a steady stream of visitors, with each centre handling around 500 to 600 tests a day each.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • All RNZ coverage of covid-19
  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.
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