Minister praises coordinated approach of Mātaatua iwi on Covid-19

7:58 pm on 7 December 2021

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare says he feels encouraged by the leaders of nine Mātaatua iwi agreeing to act as one voice in the fight against Covid-19.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare receives his booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine from Tūwharetoa Ki Kawerau Hauora nurse Puaawai Te Pou.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare receives his booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine from Tūwharetoa Ki Kawerau Hauora nurse Puaawai Te Pou. Photo: LDR / Diane McCarthy

At a meeting of the Confederated Tribes of Mātaatua at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae two weeks ago, convened by Sir Hirini Moko Mead, chairmen of nine Mātaatua iwi affirmed they would act as one voice on protection of their iwi and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a communique published last week, the confederated tribes strongly condemned any individual or group that spread misinformation about the effectiveness of vaccines.

Henare was in Kawerau on Monday, meeting with Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Hauora, Kawerau District Council and other groups combining to promote vaccinations in the district.

While there he received his booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. He is one of more than 455,000 people who are either eligible or will be eligible to receive the booster by the end of this year.

Henare, who is MP for Tāmaki Makaurau and Minister of Defence, has been spending weeks on the road visiting towns with low vaccination rates, making sure health providers have all of the support they need to roll out vaccines.

"It's to make sure all the ingredients are available on the ground. That's the first job. The second one is to make sure that they are co-ordinated in a way that sees us all striving for the same goal, and finally, of course, is execution.

"As I've gone around the country, some places have a mixture of all the ingredients and no coordination and others, the other way around. It's important to make sure we get out and we can offer them as much support as possible. Sometimes it's resources and at other times it's leadership."

Henare said a coordinated effort among iwi was an important factor in getting vaccination rates up.

"I've met with all the tribes across Mātaatua as well as Te Arawa. What we know is although someone might be Ngāti Awa, they might live over in Tauranga or they might live here in Kawerau, which is why we've had to get coordinated. It couldn't simply be one iwi trying to do everything, which is why I'm encouraged by the fact that they have come together.

"Three weeks ago, I came through here. From what I witnessed, there was lots of willingness but not too much coordination but you'll see rates have risen over the past few weeks; they're getting it right. When I came here last time, I met with Te Puna Ora o Mataatua and they had challenges around mobile clinics amongst other things and now I know those ingredients are in place and they are able to get to those far reaches."

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