New Covid cases in Kaikohe as Te Whānau o Waipareira gets to work in Northland

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Today the Ministry of Health confirmed that there are five new cases in Northland today. Four of the cases were notified after the Ministry's 9am data collection cut off, and will be included in Tuesday's data. Two of the new cases are in Kaikohe and are self-isolating at home.

The ministry also confirmed the first Covid related hospitalisation in Northland. Director General Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the patient at Whangārei Hospital is a six-week old baby.

Te Tai Tokerau Māori vaccinations are among the lowest in the country sitting at about 52% of the eligible population vaccinated, and, within the Northland region, the vaccination rates in Hokianga are the lowest.

Early Monday morning, Te Whānau o Waipareira began the day with karakia next to the Hokianga harbour to begin its week-long campaign to assist Northland efforts to vaccinate the region.

More than 70 staff and five vaccination vans were deployed on Sunday. Their efforts in Te Taitokerau are a part of their strategy ‘Fight for your whakapapa’.

Resources limited

The campaign launched in September and served as a call to arms across Tāmaki Makaurau urging Māori to get vaccinated in the face of a growing outbreak. The initial goal of 65,000 vaccinations was passed only weeks into the campaign. They have now hit the road with the same goal but in the Northland region.

Maria Te Whiu says that they’ve made the way north simply to assist vaccination efforts currently led by the region's health providers. For many of Te Whānau o Waipareira health team it’s a return home. According to Te Whānau o Waipareira, 95% of the health team are from the north.

“Ko te tino hiahia kia hoki mai mātou ki te āwhina i ngā whānau. Ko te mea kē, he iti noa ngā rauemi o te kāinga, no reira, ko mātou tēnei o Tāmaki e kuhu mai ana ki te pūwero i te kano ārai mate”

“What we wanted to do is to come back to look after our people. The thing is, resources are limited up here, so here we are from Auckland coming into the region to vaccinate the people” she said

Kristina Tipene is a part of Te Whānau o Waipareira. She says she is honoured to return home to Hokianga to assist in vaccination efforts - mahi she doesn’t take lightly.

“It's always been a goal of mine to come home serve my iwi, my people. Get everything I can in Auckland and take it back home. This is an opportunity I couldn’t let go of.”

The region's health providers have been working hard to get vaccination rates up but even providers say that accessibility to vaccinations, a fatigued workforce and misinformation continue to be the main issues they're up against

Hauora o Hokianga chief executive Margareth Broodkoorn is elated that Waipareira has freed up some of their kaimahi to get the vaccination rates up in Northland

'Sharing the love'

“Absolutely acknowledge them. We’re working together and figuring out how can we work together with our Manu Whakataki mobile vans as well. Sharing the love, sharing the resource. ‘”

“I really acknowledge that strategy through the Whānau Ora collective,” she said

Television personality Pio Terei is a part of the team. It's coming home for the Hokianga descendant doing his bit to encourage and support whānau to get vaccinated.

"We’re here to support, ehara I te mea kua tae mai kia kī, me pēnei, me pēnā, e hē ana tēna kōrero. But we’re here to support the good work done by local providers."

The group is working with local providers and will be posted across the north in Hokianga, the mid-north and will end in Whāngarei by Thursday