A Covid-19 contact tracing card trialled by iwi volunteers has earned the thumbs-up for being convenient and to easy use, especially for those who are not tech savvy, a Te Arawa kaumātua says.
The Ministry of Health joined forces with the iwi for the week-long trial that involved more than 1200 people from Ngongotaha, near Rotorua.
The cards use Bluetooth technology to record when people have been in close proximity, without the wearer having to do anything, making it easier to track people if they have come in contact with someone infected with Covid-19.
Te Arawa Covid-19 Response Hub spokesperson Monty Morrison told Checkpoint a mix of people had taken part.
"The Ministry of Health chose a community of about 5000 just out of the city of Rotorua," Morrison said.
"It has a balance of both European and Māori and within that community there are four local marae, and that gave us a good number of Māori who would be able to participate. The trial required between 500 and 1500… We're thrilled that I think almost 1270 participants signed up. And it was really a near-even split between Māori and NZ European."
Some of them would have had smartphones, he said, but the general feedback was that the card was much easier to use.
"You just have to put it on around your neck and forget about it, rather than using the smartphone and having to use it every place that you went to. So that's been the general reaction so far.
"We've had feedback from people that cards were seen in Tauranga, Taupō and even as far away as Wellington. So certainly people were able to move around.
"Of course you've got to be mindful that many of our kaumātua and others have older phones, and they don't feel competent using the app.
"We know the stats in terms of health are that Māori are going to be 50 percent more susceptible to the effects of Covid-19 than non-Māori.
"It's sobering… a lot of our most susceptible don't have access to a cellphone, and if they do, the smartphone's old, and they really don't know how to download it and then be able to use that smartphone technology. It was important for us to be involved simply because there would be some good learnings and good outcomes, not only for our community but some good outcomes that could be recommended if it's used throughout the country."
Morrison said the research showed the card was worn regularly, including at events like tangi and a kapa haka competition.
"I know that the ministry is looking at a range of wearables… not focusing on just the card – there could be another way in which the technology could be used," she said.
"There seems to be a really good acceptance to the use of the card, and we'll await the findings as they come."