30 Nov 2021

Jacinda Ardern in Hamilton to boost vaccination efforts, meet with business leaders

1:35 pm on 30 November 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Hamilton to support vaccination efforts, take part in a business roundtable and turn the sod for the Waikato Regional Theatre.

Watch Jacinda Ardern speaking here:

In a stand-up, Ardern acknowledged the restrictions that Waikato locals have had to deal with.

Ardern said she wanted to "come and acknowledge the huge amount of effort that has gone in by local businesses, by our health care providers, by community to keep one another safe during that period and come out the other side of it".

Of the Regional Theatre, she said: "I can see it is going to be an iconic venue and a real legacy project."

Earlier, Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said more Covid-19 cases could be expected once the Waikato Region moved to the orange traffic light system on Friday.

Southgate said the outbreak had been largely under control as most of those are linked.

Waikato is 83 percent fully vaccinated.

Health Minister Andrew Little said it was right to move Waikato to orange.

"The Waikato outbreak is considerably smaller than what is happening in Auckland. It is reasonably contained."

On fewer MIQ rooms, Ardern said with the new variant other countries were reinstating or creating border controls, but New Zealand already had "careful and cautious border controls" throughout the pandemic that had "served us well".

"At any specific time, there will be rooms that are vacated for 'switchovers', so once a cohort leaves, we'll have vacant rooms they are cleaned, refreshed available for the next cohort. We keep emergency provision and we keep rooms for community managed isolation as well."

She said so far about 190,000 people had come through the borders safely.

On booster shots, she said the advice was for people to get a booster shot six months from the second dose of the vaccine.

However, if the advice changed and people needed to get the booster shot earlier, "we are able to do that".

On the Auckland border, Ardern said iwi who were planning on putting up a hard border between Auckland and Northland must speak with police who were willing to work with the community around enforcement.

Anyone crossing the Auckland border must have a vaccine pass or a negative test result 72 hours before travel.

On businesses, she said yesterday's traffic light announcement was "all about keeping people in employment".

"Right now, New Zealand has one of the lowest unemployment rates that we've had on record, and in the middle of an economic crisis.

"Our job is to protect people's lives but also their livelihoods."

She said 82 percent of Māori have had their first dose of the vaccine, which showed the funding boost to increase vaccinations was working.

Ardern said businesses were not being prioritised over Māori lives.

On access to Māori vaccination data, Ardern said she was very keen to find a way through. "There are some who don't want their data provided but I think we all have an interest in making sure that people are safe."

She said some providers wanted data on an individual level, but the ministry had tried to find a way that "satisfies everyone". Those providers have information on areas with lower vaccination rates.

Ardern said Māori in Gisborne did not have to reach 90 percent vaccination rates before the region goes into the orange traffic light.

"What we're looking at across New Zealand is good, high, solid vaccination rates that have good spread across a region on a district. That's because we know with good regional spread that makes it less likely that an outbreak could take hold and cause real issues for a community but also for our health care providers.

"So for those areas that we've initially gone into red, that is because those areas where we've tended to see lower vaccination rates across the board."

She said vaccination "makes a very big difference", but there were no "hard targets" set for Māori in Tairāwhiti.

Discussing the National Party leadership race, Ardern said: "I've been up against four different leaders of the National Party. Regardless of the change in leadership with the opposition, my focus remains the same - navigating New Zealand through this incredibly tough period of a pandemic and the economic impacts of it.

"My message to whoever takes on the mantle is: 'Remember how important it is to focus on the things that New Zealand wants us focused on."

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