14 Oct 2021

Kura Kaupapa and Kohanga Reo leaders confident they'll get staff vaccinated

8:00 pm on 14 October 2021

Kura kaupapa and kōhanga reo are urging all their staff to get vaccinated - and are still working on those who are hesitant within the sector.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 16: People walk up to a vaccination centre on Dominion Rd, Balmoral on September 16, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

File image. Photo: 2021 Getty Images

All school and early childhood staff who have contact with children must get their first vaccination by 15 November 15 and their second by 1 January.

There have been fears the already pressured and underfunded sector of kura kaupapa and kohanga reo - which are total immersion - might be impacted adversely by the mandatory vaccinations for kaiako and kaimahi - with low Māori vaccination rates and some vaccine hesitancy.

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board co-chair Raniera Procter said they had already been pushing for staff to be vaccinated far before the announcement.

"We came out quite strong at the start of the lockdown as a trust to be pro-vaccination and try to get our people to get vaccinated, encouraging that as a way to protect our kaupapa and our mokopuna. And so I think that clear message at the start has supported the announcements made around mandatory vaccination," Procter said.

There was hesitancy, but the trust still had time to have difficult conversations about concerns, he said.

"There are those in our kaupapa, as there are in any sector, that will have a level of hesitancy. So we still are working alongside those in the kaupapa that have reached out and have some hesitancy and those who are oppositional, so it's about working in a way that shows care and concern, while still holding a duty of care to our mokopuna and our pakeke in the kaupapa."

Each whānau who have not had their vaccinations will have their own wananga, Procter said.

"We are being quite clear with our kaimahi about focussing on the collective and looking after ourselves, that's where our strength lies. There are some quite clear bottom lines in the guide lines which are there for a reason. Kōhanga isn't a kaupapa that draws lines in the sand but those lines have been drawn for our kaimahi.

"It's a decision we don't take lightly, however, we will continue to support all of our kaimahi to make the best decisions for themselves while maintaining our stance around being pro-vaccination."

Auckland's Te Kura Kaupapa o Hoani Waititi tumuaki Hare Rua said the message was quite simple.

"We really need to think about if people are choosing not to be vaccinated, when we come back to kura what does that mean for our tamariki who have no choice in the matter."

The announcement had motivated people to get their first shot, Rua said.

"For some of them, their whole whānau is vaccinated, and they've just been sitting there not to sure, not to sure, and i guess for a couple of them this has been something to say 'Oh well lets go', cause their own mother and father have been saying hurry up and get yourself done."

The kura have been running a vaccination clinic to make it easier for kaimahi, kaiako and whānau to access vaccinations, he said.

Te Runanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori chief executive Hohepa Campbell said that was the case also with those who were hesitant in kura kaupapa - and they understood the wero ahead.

"No-one likes to be told what they need to do, especially when it comes to their health needs, no one, including our kura, kaiako and whānau, so when they heard these mandatory requirements coming into effect, of course may of our whānau expressed concerns.

"But having said that our whānau are faced with the challenge ahead because of the health crisis that is unfolding before us. For our whānau in the kura they will rise to the challenge I am very sure of that.

"They'll be taking under their wings those of our kaiako, parents, or kaumatua who are vaccination hesitant because at the end of the day, a fundamental belief of our kaupapa is the wellbeing of our tamariki, mokopuna and all the members of our whānau who make up our kura community."

There are 71 kura kaupapa Māori on the Ministry of Education's records and 460 kōhanga reo around the country with 2300 staff.

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