Providers say Māori-only vaccination clinics vital

10:15 pm on 8 September 2021

Iwi health providers in Taranaki say vaccination clinics solely for Māori are essential to close the gap with non-Māori vaccination rates.

Covid-19 vaccination was available to everyone aged 16 and over at Rātana Pā on Friday 6 August.

Covid-19 vaccination was available to everyone aged 16 and over at Rātana Pā on August 6. Photo: LDR / Moana Ellis

This week ACT Party leader David Seymour tweeted out a vaccine code reserved for Māori by health provider Te Whānau o Waipareira, encouraging his supporters to use the code themselves.

Ngāti Ruanui Health Services general manager Graham Young said such services needed to be ring-fenced for Māori.

"Māori-only vax clinics are really important because our people are lagging behind vaccination rates in such a way we have to find ways of making sure we prioritise them."

Young said that after months of serving the whole community Ngāti Ruanui now has a particular focus on Māori five days a week, with no one coming for a vaccine turned away.

He said both the iwi and the health centre were calling whānau to encourage and arrange vaccination, and were devoting some days wholly to vaccination without bookings.

"This Friday at the Hāwera health clinic we have a full walk-in clinic you can come in, you don't need to have any booking and can get the jab - along with a $25 Pak'nSave voucher."

Young said the focus was to remove barriers, as some people found the online booking system difficult.

"They know there won't be too much paperwork and they can have their vaccine straight away.

"They can turn up and say I'm gonna have it today, I'm gonna walk through, and it's done."

He said people were encouraged to bring their whole whānau bubble to clinics in Hāwera and Pātea.

Ngaruahine Iwi Health Services has until now delivered Covid-19 testing, but general manager Warren Nicholls said they were about to start pop-up vaccination clinics.

"They will be marae-based pop-up clinics. We've got a range of Ngāruahine marae that are going to be scheduled in the next five weeks, and then repeating that in a couple of months' time for the second round as well."

He said the pop-ups would be Māori-led, Māori-focused and target Ngāruahine descendants.

"No apologies: this is targeted for Māori. This is about reaching out and creating the environment where those trusted relationships can reach out, support, have the conversations and encourage whānau to protect our whakapapa, protect our mokopuna, our kaumatua and whanau katoa."

Warren said anyone undecided about the vaccine would also be welcome.

"Actually come, have some whanaungatanga, have the conversation, so that an informed choice can be made."

"It's not about the end result in terms of what their final decision is, it's about basing that on accurate, clear information and understanding that information."

This week Tui Ora has run clinics in Ōpunakē and Waitara specifically for Māori.

This Thursday to Saturday and again on Tuesday the Tui Ora clinics will be at New Plymouth's TSB Stadium.

Tui Ora chief executive Hayden Wano encouraged whānau who weren't sure about the vaccine to come for a kōrero with trained staff.

"We really encourage our whanau if they are getting mixed messages about whether it's safe or not, really encouraging them if they've got any doubts to rock up wherever we're running our clinics and get the best advice you can, because we know there's a lot of contradictory and even a lot of misinformation particularly on social media."

no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs