2 Nov 2021

Māori vaccination data: 'Bureaucracy has failed us' - John Tamihere

12:59 pm on 2 November 2021

Politicians should step in to ensure the Ministry of Health releases Māori vaccination data to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, chief executive John Tamihere says.

John Tamihere at Te Whānau O Waipareira's new Covid-19 vaccination clinic.

John Tamihere Photo: Twitter / Te Whānau O Waipareira

The Ministry has been ordered by the High Court to reconsider its refusal to share the data with the agency.

The agency went to court to try to get access to individual-level data, to better target Māori who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19

Tamihere told Morning Report despite the ruling it was impossible to hold a ministry to account.

"It beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic we have to take our own government and our own ministry to court and vindicate the fact that we have ability, we have capacity, we can think, and we could have rolled this out in a different way and had a different result.

"Even the Privacy Commissioner intervened in the case and his evidence was supportive of us."

Government agencies share information on a daily basis without people's consent, he said.

"At least we overtly asked for our people's information. Not all of it - we just want to know where our unvaccinated are so we can offer them a vaccine opportunity."

He said the agency had vaccinated more than 500,000 people - and 90 percent of them were non-Māori. "That's not a bad thing, but it shows you the way the system was designed to ensure only 10 percent of our people got through our own gate."

Tamihere said it was about time politicians "took control".

"You just can't blame an amorphous mass called MOH," he said.

"We've now proven that the bureaucracy has failed us."

It left Māori exposed in a very difficult moment in time, he said, needing to raise vaccination rates as the government moves towards dropping other protection mechanisms.

The ministry had held back the data over privacy concerns, but the High Court judge ruled the risk to Māori communities trumped that.

In a brief statement, the ministry said it was reconsidering its decision to deny the agency access to Māori vaccine data.

A spokesperson said the ministry acknowledged the court's findings.

To date, 75 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, while for Māori the figure is 53 percent, and Pacific people it is 69 percent, according to latest Ministry of Health figures.