TODAY |

Pasifika volunteers desperate for sewing machines to help community amid face mask shortage

Three million more masks are on the way this week for communities who need them, according to the Government. 

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The New Zealand Food Network ran out of masks this week and is uncertain when they’ll get more. Source: 1 NEWS

The promise comes as concern mounts amongst South Auckland providers over face coverings for Pasifika communities, with many stripped of supply.

This morning the ASA Foundation received another request from 14 churches desperate for masks for their congregations, chief executive Tofilau Esther Tofilau says they're down to their last box of supplies.

Over the last week the charity has faced unprecedented demand; donated hand sanitiser and 40,000 face masks flying out the door, with grateful community leaders collecting for their respective groups.

The ASA Foundation isn't alone.

The NZ Food Network, which provided around 80 organisations with masks, has also been stripped bare.

"Our present supply is zero. We distributed two lots of 500,000, so a million masks last week," chief executive Gavin Findlay says.

Ōtara Kai Village provides essential food packages for those who need them. They're now adding in masks as it's an extra cost families can't afford.

But their supplies are swiftly dwindling.

"We are a bit concerned we won't have enough sufficient supply when most people go back to work next Monday," Swanie Nelson says.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says people can make them at home, if they can't afford to buy.

"They are not difficult to make and there is a heap of videos that can help you online."

But that's not a reality for many.

It's why around 80 Samoan women want to make free masks for their community.

"We have not enough fabric to sew into masks and only one machine," sewer Georgina Matua says.

The ASA Foundation is applying for an urgent grant to get the sewing machines the women need. 

"They want to actually make masks for children as well, it's wonderful," Ms Tofilau says.

"They really want to help us and the community."

It's a community not wanting a handout, just a helping hand so they can provide for their own.