'I'm vaccinated - for my kapa haka'

By Taroi Black

Tāmaki Kapa Haka is calling on teams nationwide to join its campaign to vaccinate so the 2022 Te Matatini Festival runs safely in the midst of a health crisis.

While Te Matatini, the national organisation for kapa haka is discussing whether its festival should only allow whānau to attend who are vaccinated,  title defender Ngā Tūmanako became the first haka group to run its own vaccination programme.

This meant members could travel to the Maeva Nui festival in Rarotonga as New Zealand ambassadors before lockdown. 

It was like "dangling a carrot" in front of the performers who were eagerly wanting to represent their country, Ngā Tūmanako tutor Kawariki Morgan says. 

“The decision was, if you weren't vaccinated, then you can't travel ." 

Now the group based in West Auckland can safely train at Hoani Waititi Marae in its quest to get back-to-back wins next year.

Worries over unvaccinated attending

“If we all vaccinate, then we can finally go back to do things we love doing.”

Te Matatini host committee in Tāmaki Makaurau talked with Māori health experts on social media following the launch of its campaign 'I'm Vaccinated For My Kapa Haka'. Feedback from some performers who have underlying health problems and can't vaccinate meant they were looking for alternatives to still participate.

Tāmaki Makaurau's delegate on the Te Matatini executive committee, Annette Wehi, said this can be done. But performers must "seek advice from their doctors first." 

According to Dr Rawiri Taonui vaccination rates among Māori have been pleasing, with an 18% increase in the past three weeks.

And today, Turuki Healthcare launched another new mobile vaccine vehicle filled with freezer and medical equipment so it can be driven to whānau who can't get to the vaccine centres. 

While it's also an option for haka performers to jump on board this mobile vaccine programme, there are concerns over how many of the 40% of the unvaccinated Māori population will attend the festival.

"It's a signal that poses a risk of community transmission," Turuki's Dr Lily Fraser says.