Marae opens doors for drive-through vaccinations

By Tumamao Harawira

Papakura Marae chief executive Tony Kake has one message to his community: "He waka eke noa - we are all in this together"

Papakura Marae has opened its doors to locals wanting to get vaccinated, with the first marae-based vaccination drive-through centre.

The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre has been busy setting up other drive-through vaccination centres around Auckland, including the first drive-through vaccination centre for Auckland at the Park and Ride site near Auckland Airport, and more recently at the Trusts Arena in Henderson.

Programme director Matt Hannant believes the drive-through vaccination centres are useful to speed up the vaccination process.

"For us, it's about opening up different access points and community partners, and marae-based services are a key part of that."

Doctor Matire Harwood, who is from Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā and affiliates to Papakura Marae, says there is no better place than home to get a shot.

"We were invited to go to the airport over the weekend and I talked to him about it and he said, 'No mum, I want to do it in our own community.'"

The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre's Dr Anthony Jordan says aside from the enormous job of testing and vaccination, the centre is also hard at work looking after people who have been infected.

"There is also the aspect of keeping people safe who don't have hospitalisation facilities. So we are working very hard in the regions and nationally to make sure that those facilities are fit for purpose."

Kake says the whānau in Papakura have long contemplated opening up the marae to allow drive-through vaccinations.

"Doctor Rāwiri Jansen said to me, 'Let's try what's happening in Australia.' They have been trialling drive-through vaccinations since April."