Māori largest number of new cases - ministry 'didn't follow the science'

updated By Taroi Black

Advice given to the Ministry of Health last year to prioritise Māori for vaccines to avoid the Covid-19 virus was ignored.  

That’s according to Auckland University indigenous statistics Associate Professor Andrew Sporle who says Māori should have been put at the head of the queue.

“We produced the information and sent it to the ministry and there wasn't that prioritisation on the basis of a risk profile that we thought there should be,” Sporle says.

“So, we would actually say they didn't follow the science.”

Counties Manukau DHB and Northern Region Health Coordination Tumu Tikanga - Mahaki Albert speaks to Te Ao Mārama about bus vaccinations.


He believes children are most vulnerable to the transmission of the Delta variant and it will spread through communities if they're not vaccinated.

A trial is underway by Pfizer CFO in the USA to vaccinate children younger than the 12-15-year-olds being targeted here now. A CNBC story reports results for the 5 -11-year-olds will be in by the “end of this month”, while countries in Europe 

'Playing catchup'

Aotearoa New Zealand's leading medicine regulator, Medsafe, gives signoffs for all medicines, and vaccines must wait for  submissions from the pharmaceutical company.

If it's considered, Medsafe Group Manager Chris James said the vaccine will go through a further clinical trial along with feedback from the Covid-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group (CV TAG). Cabinet will decide from then on. 

Last year, a Māori plan was written by Sporle’s team and given to the ministry to tackle vaccinations among vulnerable communities. But, at the rate the country is going, -if New Zealand is to open its borders when the country is vaccinated at 80%, at least 2000 Māori and Pasifika will die in two years, he claims.

“We actually have to go hard and go early with those populations and we're now playing catch up.”

It’s a crucial issue facing schools across New Zealand in level 2 in this pandemic. However, in Auckland, Te Wharekura o Manurewa tumuaki/principal Mahia Nathan says the responsibility lies with parents once school goes back to some form of normality at Alert level to 2 from Alert level 4.

“If parents aren't wanting to get vaccinated, then their children will follow suit.”

One safe option could be for tamariki to continue learning from home if they're not vaccinated.

“The ministry says it can allow children to still do online learning from home.”