16 Nov 2021

94% kura staff have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine

7:12 pm on 16 November 2021

The vast majority of kura kaupapa Māori and kohanga reo staff have had the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with mandates now in force.

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Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Governing body Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa has been collecting data from kura and shows 94 percent of all staff have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board is still waiting on all its data to be collected but so far, 156 kohanga out of 455 have reported back and only 2 percent have declined the vaccine.

Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa chief executive Hohepa Campbell said they had been working with kura to share information, and have discussions about the vaccine and it showed majority in kura kaupapa supported the mandate.

"We are really pleased with how kura kaupapa Māori have reacted to the mandate to support their tamariki. The numbers will continue to go up," Campbell said.

"The mandate is a means to protect our vulnerable tamariki and vulnerable communities all around the country," he said.

Campbell said it had been a difficult time for all whānau in all kura.

"Everyone processes things in different ways. As a national body we continue to support all our kura across the country and now looking at a regionally based reliever pool."

He said some kura had farewelled staff.

"It is a sad time for those kura and they are affording them courtesy by making sure the work they have contributed is celebrated and recognised and they will always be part of the whānau community. This has been an anxious time for some of our kura.

"Our kura are going to be looking at ways of working with those whanau, it could be a possibility in the future that they come back to working in the kura."

Campbell said the main reason for not getting vaccinated was that it was a personal choice.

He said there were approximately 1500 staff, 900 teachers across the 64 kura kaupapa in Aotearoa.

He said kura were working on plans for when Covid-19 entered their communities.

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board co-chair Raniera Procter said it was aiming for 100 percent vaccinated but was glad it was less than 10 percent unvaccinated.

He said they would have a clearer picture about all kohanga reo by the end of the week.

"We did a survey last week that showed 10 percent were refusing the vaccine, so we are much happier with 2 percent," Procter said.

He said last week there were a few kohanga kaiako who had strongly expressed their opposition to the vaccination.

But he said he did not expect any kohanga reo to close.

"If something did happen, we are lucky to have a purapura system to reach out to other kohanga reo potentially to help so they don't have to close.

"We will use our wider networks and find those who can support. We will know more as the day continues and a fuller picture by the end of the week."

Procter said it was sad some kaimahi had declined the vaccine and now were unable to work at kohanga reo.

"We have created a space for them and now we have ad to say good-bye. It's really sad from a Board point of view, because we are not able to go out and meet and acknowledge their service because this isn't a kaupapa you come into for the money.

"Some of these kaimahi we will have to say good-bye to have been here since the inception of the kaupapa.

"It's a sad day, but a day we all knew was coming. Now we must push forward to support our kaimahi, both unvaccinated and vaccinated going forward."

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