Back to court; Whānau Ora boss wants Tamariki Māori vaccine data

By Will Trafford

Whānau Ora boss John Tamihere says the agency will again take the government to court, this time to demand data on Tamariki Māori eligible for the Covid vaccine.

The child vaccine rollout began Monday following approval for the vaccine by MedSafe but Tamihere says the ministry is again stifling access to crucial data.

"How many times do we have to go to court with these guys? The ministry knew this last year when we asked it for the data but it is extremely reluctant to provide us with anything," Tamihere said.

A quarter of all Māori are under 12 years old. Tamihere wants to be able to email and text whānau who are eligible to get their tamariki vaccinated, with the focus on areas of low vaccination rates such a South Auckland.

Tamihere told RNZ the legal battle is a "huge waste of taxpayers' money” and although he says he will recover some of that from the Ministry of Health, the bills have already hit half a million dollars.

Despite two rulings in Tamihere’s favour last year, health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield continues to oppose the commissioning agency’s requests on privacy grounds.

'Absolutely resistant'

On December 11 last year, four days before Auckland’s border restrictions were lifted, the ministry released a large batch of data to Whānau Ora, but Tamihere claimed the delay tactics meant the data wasn't as effective as it could've been.

"So resistantly and reluctantly we finally get it and the Auckland border opens in four days time, it takes about five to six days to mine it and then bring our regions together to work out a redeployment of our assets against information now we can target for the first time. Our vaccination capability is not going to be able to work with this data before Christmas." he said at the time.

"It's a sense of sabotage. There's the remarkable thing about it, it's premeditated. If it was by mistake I'd get it but this chap has been absolutely resistant at every turn for this and trying to find every excuse.’ Tamihere said.