'Get a shot if you want to stay alive' - kuia worried for her mokopuna

By Taroi Black

Manurewa Marae kāumatua were one of the first in Aotearoa to get the Pfizer vaccine. Now, their part of that same group from April this year are receiving their booster shots. 

Today, booster shots kicked off for New Zealanders over 18 years who received their two doses more than six months ago.

The aim is to get as many kāumatua vaccinated as the country prepares for the Traffic Light System

“We were among the first kaumātua to receive our first two vaccinations, and now we are going for the trifecta and rolling our sleeves up for the booster shot to protect us even further,” Manurewa Marae chair Tunuiarangi McLean says. 

“We encourage other kaumātua to follow our example.”

The marae has vaccinated more than 44,000 people, many of whom are non-Māori, which is a reality for many Māori providers.  

Kuia and kids

"I'm following the same example as our kuia for our granchildren. We will be setting up vaccinations for kids from five years and up shortly," McLean says.

The marae is collaborating with Te Whānau o Waipareira over the next 14 days to vaccinate as many whānau as possible before the Christmas break.  

This week first, second and booster shots will be given street by street in specific areas of South Auckland. It is based on detailed data Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere asked the government to release. Part of it, for Auckland only, was.

Without it, the vaccinators' job would be significantly challenged to locate Māori throughout Aotearoa who are unvaccinted. 

'Too little, too late'

"We now know where to properly set up to get the best possible result," Tamihere says. 

However, it has come 'too little, too late' to protect communities like Taranaki and Tairāwhiti regions that have many Māori populations. Tamihere says, those regions are highly likely to be put into the 'red' light if vaccinations aren't lifted.  

"There is no apetite in the Pākēhā communities for further lockdowns because they're all immunised."

"So, we've been set up for failure here."

South Auckland based Te Aumihi Davis, 87, has outlived many viruses as she arrived to Manurewa Marae for her booster shot. 

She fears to travel this Christmas because many in her community aren't vaccinated. 

"Everyone needs to get a shot if they want to stay alive. Including our tamariki," she says.