8 Apr 2021

Tukaki calls for Auckland DHB chair to resign over early vaccine

From Checkpoint, 6:07 pm on 8 April 2021

The chair of the National Māori Authority is calling for the chair of Auckland District Health Board to resign after he acknowledged he had preferential treatment when he was given a Covid-19 vaccination despite not being high on the priority list.

Auckland DHB chair Pat Snedden told Checkpoint how he got a Covid-19 vaccination, along with some other board members, while many frontline workers are yet to get the vaccine.

"The opportunity arose because of the fact that we've been very solidly through the frontline staff at ADHB, pretty much everybody who is in the patient-facing part of ADHB has been offered the vaccination," Snedden said.

"We thought that in the context actually of showing confidence in the science and showing confidence in the position that we would take the opportunity for vaccination when it occurred and it just happened to occur on the day at the end of the board meeting."

"The issue for me is pretty blatantly obvious," Matthew Tukaki said. "A chair of a district health board admitting it's privilege, at a time when we have a programme of vaccination for our frontline workers, our healthcare workers.

"And unless I'm incorrect these people who sit on a district health board weren't due to get vaccinations for months."

Tukaki said there was no leadership objective in board members getting the vaccine.

"There was no announcement on the staff intranet, there was no public press release, no photos taken, there was not a video promo released to the public. Exactly who are they trying to inspire here from their ivory tower? Some group of supporters in Remuera?

"Because quite frankly the number of calls I've fielded throughout the day on this issue, from frontline workers within the Auckland District Health Board, and other community workers – it smacks of privilege."

He said ADHB staff have expressed concern to him about board members receiving the vaccination.

"It also seems these people are yet to be scheduled for their own vaccinations, and yet they are working on the front line within the hospital system.

"So they were deeply concerned and they also felt not only a degree of arrogance in what Pat Snedden has been saying, but also the fact that they could queue jump over the more vulnerable people in the community that are yet to be scheduled to receive their vaccinations."

He said politicians like Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare deserve vaccination priority as they have national profiles and are dealing with communities where questions have been asked about taking the vaccine.

"They would have got it in a couple of months because their profile suggests they were still two to three months away and again unless I'm wrong … to say or suggest from that tower of leadership that they weren't taking the vaccine from somebody else who couldn't have otherwise had it in that vulnerable category, I actually think that's just arrogant.

"There are people that are on a call list that are able to receive the vaccine, that are in that second rung of front line community workers that might be around the hospital, or wherever the available vaccine might be.

"In my view Pat has got to go. I'm the chair of the Māori Authority, I'm the chair of any number of boards… Have I been offered the vaccine? No I haven't.

"If I was offered the vaccine my message would have been clear. I'd jump on social media anyway, and try and promote people not being fearful of it, but I would make the point: No, give it to somebody else who's further before me in the queue. I can wait my turn, because that's what leadership looks like.

"If I pulled this sort of stunt, I tell you what, I would know that it's time for me to leave the building.

"I would love to know what Pat is doing so involved in the Auckland DHB that he believes he should be entitled to a vaccine a front line worker would otherwise have.

"This is where this privilege mentality and the arrogance of the words they speak has got to end, and we've got to start putting our most vulnerable, and our front line health workers and community workers at the front of the queue.

"People like Pat and I, we can wait our turn."