18 Oct 2021

Tairāwhiti trust 'floored and thankful' at money donated for vaccination van

11:13 am on 18 October 2021

A Tairāwhiti trust which is thrilled the country sees the value of a vaccination van for the area and has put their money into crowdfunding it.

Vaccination Centre Sign

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The region had the lowest turnout for Super Saturday with only 912 vaccinations given so Te Aroha Kanarahi Trust set up a Givealittle page to get their own vaccination van.

Donations have been flooding in, and by 9am on Monday had topped $110,000.

Trustee Tina Ngata told Morning Report questions about why the van did not get government funding were not for her to answer.

"It has been put forward before, though to the DHB and through to the Ministry [of Health] and it's not been approved.

"The main thing for us right now is just that we want to get it up and running.

"We see value in it, our communities see value in it, and I'm so thrilled that Aotearoa also evidently sees value on it and have put their money on the matter as well."

She said she was amazed when the fundraiser hit $10,000. "We thought, 'wow, we could really contribute something and try and find some other philanthropic funding to contribute.

"And then that just kept going and growing, and so we're just really, really floored and thankful."

"We're sitting down today to put our plan together and look at exactly what the other costs are going to be. Because there's also human resource costs involved, of course, and other supplies as well, and accommodation for people who are going to come here because it's a very remote area.

A van would cost about $80,000, she said. The trust is in discussions with other philanthropists, and has been inundated with offers of support form doctors, nurses and vaccinators.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare said he was surprised the trust had started a Givealittle page because the government has allocated money for this type of initiative.

"I was in Te Tairāwhiti speaking to the Māori health providers on the Thursday and none of them mentioned it to me.

"I had a catch-up with them last night to say 'if this is what you need why don't you tell me earlier, we could have got this done', he told Morning Report.

"We've got the team working on that one very quickly.

"We've allocated for the Māori vaccination programme over $80 million and that's what that money is for."

Labour Party MP for the East Coast Kiri Allen told Morning Report she supported grass roots initiatives and there were other mobile options coming to the East Coast.

"I'm working with Ngāti Porou Hauora, the provider on East Coast, right now on mobile options in addition to the couple of temporary mobile options they have right now.

"I don't want to impact what Tina is doing because it's great, but I do want to make clear that the government is working directly with Ngāti Porou Hauora for their own mobile solution," she said, involving capital expenditure for a mobile clinic and operating funding for nursing staff.

Ngata said they intend to go door to door for five weeks, and in the summer go round recreational areas and camping spots.

"In the summer we're one of the most visited regions in the country which is wonderful but it's also a source of anxiety for quite a few of us."

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