Muriwhenua kura lead vaccination drive

By Tumamao Harawira

On Monday, three kura kaupapa Māori in the Far North will open up shop to give whānau the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Te Rangi Āniwaniwa, Pukemiro and Tūtūtarakihi whānau will have special access to the vaccine, with a drive designed to target parents and students of the three kura.

Chairperson of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Āniwaniwa, Trudy Brown, says the idea behind the vaccination day is to make the vaccine accessible to all that are connected to the three Kura Kaupapa Māori of Muriwhenua.

"As the Board of Trustees at Te Rangi Āniwaniwa, we wanted to ensure that all kura whānau, including Pukemiro and Tūtūtarakihi, had easy access and every opportunity to be vaccinated. It was important for us to provide an environment that was familiar and comfortable for whānau."

Offering incentives for whānau to get vaccinated

Māori suffer from one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country so, with support from Aupōuri Ngāti Kahu Te Rārawa Trust (ANT) and Te Hiku Hauora, whānau will be provided with kai vouchers and health packs upon receiving the vaccine.

"We are lucky to be able to collaborate with two significant Māori organisations in Kaitaia, being the ANT Trust and Te Hauora o Te Hiku o Te Ika.  This is a community event and we could not have done this without the food vouchers from ANT Trust and health packs/vaccinations from Te Hauora o te Hiku o te Ika. Together, as a community, we can do our part to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Delta," says Brown.

"We understand that some of our whānau are struggling financially during lockdown because their tamariki are home all day, putting pressure on kai, electricity and wifi in the whare.  We wanted to be able to support whānau with a koha to ease some of the stress at home."

He waka eke noa

Upon Northland moving down lockdown levels, the Taitokerau Border Control sprung back into action, setting up checkpoints in keys areas to help protect the region from the potential spread of the virus, and Brown says this is another arrow in the bow for the region to protect its people.

"The Taitokerau Border Control (TBC) have shouldered most of the responsibility for keeping Covid-19 out of Muriwhenua.  Being vaccinated offers whānau another level of protection from Delta and helps to support what the TBC is doing."

"We know that our whānau often have three generations living together, so it was a way of encouraging everyone in the whare to get their vaccination, not just to protect themselves, but to protect the most vulnerable whānau members in their bubble."

Blueprint for other rohe to follow

The plan is being hailed for its innovation to get more Māori vaccinated, including from government and even opposition parties, and Brown says it could give other regions ideas on how they could get more of their whānau vaccinated.

"We are only doing what we think will work for us here in Muriwhenua.  Other KKM [Kura Kaupapa Māori] around the motu might have other innovative ways to reach their whānau and promote the vaccination kaupapa.  If they want to use our model, we would encourage them to do so."