Dr Rawiri Jansen: Proof Māori were poorly served on vaccines

By Stefan Dimitrof

A Waikato university report has proved Māori have had significantly less access to covid-19 vaccines.

The peer-reviewed study, Structural disadvantage for priority populations, the spatial inequity of covid-19 vaccination services in Aotearoa was published on Friday, in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The research looked at the geographic distribution of vaccination services and confirmed New Zealand’s vaccine rollout failed priority groups, including Māori, Pasifika, rural and the elderly.

Dr Rawiri Jansen, co-leader of the Māori pandemic response group Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, spoke with Te Ao Tapatahi about the failings of the vaccinations program for Māori and the things that we could learn from these shortcomings.

Dr Jansen says the Omicron outbreak is still going to negatively impact Māori communities in ways that are preventable. “Vaccination is the most important protection for our community and our whanau.

“We are going to see another wave of Omicron and it is going to have a long-term impact.”

It has been recognised that it was unrealistic that Māori was going to receive equitable outcomes," he says.

“It was predictably unrealistic. We have a health system that has consistently underperformed for Māori for a long time and the health system has a lot of work to try and improve that.”

Dr Jansen says Māori health providers in Māori communities have been well organised, well-motivated and want to be the solution. "Now is the time to support that and pivot to support that.”

Dr Jansen also says Māori should “support whanau, neighbours and friends that are struggling, be prepared for further outbreaks in the future and, if you are really unwell, ring for help.”