Marae wants apology over 'fake vaccinations' story

By Tumamao Harawira

Manurewa Marae is calling for a formal apology following a story by Discovery's Newshub over what it says are unsubstantiated allegations the marae administered fake Covid-19 vaccinations.

An investigation by the Ministry of Health and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency found no evidence of fake vaccinations, and the marae is asking Newshub to front up and apologise.

In the story titled 'Coronavirus: Internal investigation launched at Auckland's Manurewa Marae over allegations of 'false vaccinations', reporter Michael Morrah claimed 'a high-profile south Auckland marae that's been at the forefront of the city's Covid-19 vaccine rollout has launched an internal investigation over allegations of 'false vaccinations' being administered by staff.'

The story itself was light on details about fake vaccinations or evidence.

Manurewa Marae chief executive Takutai Kemp says Morrah, and Newshub should front up.

"An apology, that's the minimum. At least he should be coming here to apologise and to actually hear our whakaaro about the damage he created.

'Damaging allegations'

"It was hard for us here at the marae to be put in that negative environment or limelight because our focus here is 'Amohia ake te ora o te iwi, ka puta ki te whai ao'. The health and wellbeing of our people are paramount."

According to Morrah's report, Newshub had obtained copies of emails confirming the investigation at Manurewa Marae.

Takutai says the marae started the investigation because it was worried by the unsubstantiated claims.

"You know you hear kōrero, people talk about it. So as a marae, and as a leadership team, we always want to be able to ensure that our practice is good quality, that we are delivering a best service practice."

"Allegations are damaging when they come from mainstream and Pākehā media. Who are they to do that to us when they have no evidence? They didn't have a source, and no substance. So was it about the false vaccinations or was it about another kaupapa?"

Marae chairman Tūnuiārangi Mclean says they want to move on and get closure.

"In two weeks the hope is we have the head of Newshub, who I believe is a woman, here on the marae, and Michael Morrah as well".

However, a Discovery spokesperson says Newshub stands by its story and will not be apologising.

"We are working with Manurewa Marae on maintaining a constructive relationship and will not be commenting further."