27 Nov 2021

20 Waikato health providers unite to boost Māori vaccination rates

8:06 am on 27 November 2021

'Nau mai haere mai'- come and get vaccinated is the call Māori providers are sharing in preparation for this weekend's vaccination haul run by the Waikato District Health Board.

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Photo: AFP

Over 20 Waikato health providers have banded together for this weekend's wero to boost Māori vaccination rates to reach 90 percent first dose.

They said, with the government planning to open up during the traffic light system, there was an urgency to help protect whānau.

Weka Pene is the vice chair of Rukumoana Marae, one of the marae jumping on board for the vaccination drive.

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Photo: Supplied

He is also a representative for their Covid-19 response group and said the marae were continuing their kaupapa of raising the vaccination rates within Māoridom.

He said their primary objective was to contribute to the 90-95 percent vaccination rate and they were looking to reach the close to 200 whānau in the Morrinsville area who had not been vaccinated.

"So, it's a drive through clinic and we're going to be providing the sounds so that they can have a kanikani perhaps in their waka.

"It is a co-ordinated approach and everybody's on the same kaupapa, health and well-being are at the top of the list.

"We're genuinely trying to put our best foot forward ... we're still keeping within those restrictions, still being conscious of the fact that it is on our doorstep if not in our whare so we still need to act accordingly" he said.

Both providers were disappointed that despite Māori on the ground working hard to reach their communities, the government had placed additional pressure on them with the looming dates for the Auckland border opening and the Covid-19 protection framework being unleashed.

Pene said there will be an influx of people come that date.

He said perhaps the government needed to also have shared more information and resources with vulnerable communities from the beginning detailing the realities of the virus which might have created a stronger sense of trust.

Lady Tureiti Moxon, who fronts Te Kōhao health, said they were trying to push hard to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

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Photo: Supplied

She said there were about 6000 people in their rohe who were still yet to receive their first round of inoculations.

"As we're all aware, the borders will be opening up and people will be moving around and if we're not vaccinated it just means that the numbers in the Waikato region will grow," she said.

"Well, there's about 6000 in our rohe from Hauraki down to Maniapoto and across to Raukawa, over there in Tokoroa and right across here in the Waikato.

"So, all the providers are trying to make one last ditch effort to try and pull as many people across the line as we can."

The Waikato District Health Board did not respond to RNZ's request for comment but both providers said they had been working closely with the district health board and that this relationship had been practical and supportive.

They said they needed to partner meaningfully as there was bound to be a flood of people entering into vulnerable communities come the holidays and they wanted to be as safe and prepared as possible.

If people are serious about keeping ourselves, our family and our mokopuna safe then we must be vaccinated, Moxon said.

"We definitely have to work closely because the tsunami is still yet to come.

"We're going to infect each other if we don't get vaccinated... we'll be working very hard alongside the DHB to try and get them across the line, so we don't have that issue going forward" she said.

Moxon was adamant about ensuring that whānau were vaccinated as the Christmas and summer period dawned.

She said they've got spot prizes, music, and other incentives already to go to encourage the 6000 people in rohe needing their first dose.

"We're going to have a sausage sizzle, karaoke and music and lots of fun things, so that people come through to be vaccinated - it's going to be a festival of an occasion.

"We want to try and encourage as many of those 6000 to come and we're doing this with spot prizes, incentives, with music and all kinds of things to try and entice people to come because Christmas is coming very soon.

"Come one, come all... We're all in it together," she said.

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