Push to improve Covid-19 vax rates for Māori

By Tumamao Harawira

Health advocates are concerned by the low rate of Covid-19 vaccinations among Māori. Now Te Whānau o Waipareira has begun training young Māori to administer the vaccine in a bid to raise Māori vaccination rates. 

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Māori vaccination rates are abysmal. Of the over 850,000 Māori in New Zealand, only 8.9 per cent have had two jabs. Māori are lagging behind the rest of the country, and the National Māori Pandemic Group's Dr Rāwiri Jansen says that rests on the government.

Who is to blame? Māori didn't come up with this plan, it was the Ministry of Education along with the district health boards because they are responsible for the rollout of the vaccine.

Dr Jansen says this makes Māori more susceptible to an outbreak, especially the Delta variant. In the past week container ship Rio De la Plata entered Tauranga's Port and there are 11 current Covid-19 cases on board.

Vaccinating by Māori for Māori

"And we know it isn't a question of when we will see the Delta variant in New Zealand. There is no doubt that it will make its way in."

Georgia Leef-Milner of Te Rārawa is training to become a vaccinator for Te Whānau o Waipareira, who began training Māori youth in West Auckland.

"We just want to help out because we are quite understaffed with vaccinators and we need to get our whānau vaccinated and more Māori through our doors."

Leef-Milner says for Māori, it's better to have a Māori face greeting the people getting the vaccine.

"If I'm bringing my whānau in, they are going to want to come through Māori. It's not coming from a foreign point of view that they are thinking it's an overseas vaccination we are forcing on them all."