The first large-scale marae and Māori-led local vaccination centre went live this morning at Manurewa Marae in South Auckland.
Whānau enrolled at the clinic will receive an invitation to book their vaccination time. Leading the way to get vaccinated were CEO Natasha Kemp and marae chairman Rangi Mclean.
Kaumātua and kuia were amongst the first in line at the marae early on Thursday morning as part of the vaccine rollout through Māori healthcare providers. McLean says for him, it's about taking the initiative and hopefully setting the example for others to follow.
"I received my vaccination today for Covid-19. At the end of the day everyone has the choice to receive or not receive the vaccine. But the fact that Manurewa Marae will be a local vaccination cntre for whānau in South Auckland was very important."
The majority of the border workers and their families have already been vaccinated, and so the second phase of the roll-out will target vulnerable people within the Counties Manukau District Health Board area. "Those over 65 and those with certain health conditions that will put them at risk are on our top priority list to receive the vaccination here at Manurewa Marae, and the centre can vaccinate up to 350 people per day," Kemp says.
However, those leading this initiative are aware of the concerns and the uncertainty that some have about this vaccination. "This is the choice that we have made here at Manurewa Marae and as individuals to get the vaccination. We want to encourage whānau to get vaccinated." Kemp says.
"By us being one of the first to get the ball rolling in terms of setting up our marae as a vaccination centre, my response to those who aren't in support of the vaccination, each to their own. But I want to go see my whānau and mokopuna over in Australia, and now I can!" McLean says.
Adding to that, since the arrival of the coronavirus in New Zealand, Manurewa Marae has gone over and beyond to provide for its community, with food and hygiene packs, and constant support for those who needed it.
"I'm super proud of the mahi that our marae has completed over the last year during Covid-1D. No one had a blueprint on how to approach the situation. However, we knew we had an obligation to be there for our whānau in need," Kemp says.
Other marae in Auckland and across the country will soon be ready to also be a local vaccination centre for their communities.