Ngāti Kahu wraps up vax drive as cases rise

By Tumamao Harawira

As Covid cases continue to rise, a Northland iwi is wrapping up its last vaccination drive before the end of the year.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kahu was out and about in the Far North giving out vaccinations in Whatuwhiwhi and Taipā today, and with Covid-related deaths in Northland in the past week, the iwi is working hard to reach out to its members.

According to the statistics of reported cases in the last week, more than 21,000 people have contracted the disease. Some 56 people have died, three of those from Northland.

That's caused a plea from Ikanui Kingi-Waiaua to his people.

"Ngāti Kahu is saying, it's time that we return to mask-wearing, to social distance. All the previous precautions should be brought back."

"Over the past three weeks, Ngāti Kahu has had a tremendous number of its people contract the disease."

At the beginning of this year, Ngāti Kahu Rūnanga bought a mobile vaccination truck to go directly to the houses of its people.

Covid cases rise, but Northland is doing all it can to raise vaccination numbers too.

'Invaluable' mobile unit

Kataraina Rhind, who works on the mobile vaccination unit, says Ngāti Kahu got the idea of owning its own unit following a visit from Te Whānau o Waipareira. She says it's an invaluable piece in the arsenal of the rūnanga to reach its people.

"Our older people are hōhā to go to town because these places are not open when they go to town."

"In the last month or so, we've had a lot of whānau also have Covid, so that sort of put them back from getting their second booster."

Two months ago the government made antiviral Covid medication available to those at risk of severe illness. At this time those medicines aren't available to the people of Ngāti Kahu.

"Ngāti Kahu doesn't provide those medications at this point in time but we have people that are sick, people who should have access to those medicines."

Ngāti Kahu says it has greatly discussed these type of medicines and they will be made available to their people by Christmas.