Quarantine-free Travel from NZ to Raro resumes as covid vaccine consultations begin

By Te Ao - Māori News

Quarantine free travel from Aotearoa to Rarotonga for Cook Islanders and work permit holders has resumed.

And in preparation for the much anticipated two-way travel bubble with New Zealand in the weeks ahead, Te Marae Ora has begun it’s vaccination consultation hui with residents.

It was a full house at the first of four meetings held last night.

Te Marae Ora Secretary, Bob Williams said, “It is important for us, for Te Marae Ora to get around to our community, to get them better informed in making decisions before the vaccine gets here.”

Locals voiced a range of concerns.

One local said, “Just the other day I was reading about a person who was vaccinated in a foreign country that was linked to a death, and that was from one of the four vaccines that you guys were recommending that we have to take, what are your thoughts on that?”

Another woman said, “For incoming passengers, do they get stamped that they’ve had the vaccine and they’re not bringing in covid?”

Four types of vaccine supplied from New Zealand will be made available for free to all 14, 000 plus Cook Islands residents, over 16 or 18 years. And it’s voluntary.

“Firstly I like what it says it’s voluntary, cause I don’t have enough information about this vaccination,” said Danny Mataroa of Rarotonga, Puaikura Vaka. 

“So I’m here to get more information so I can make the right decision,” he said.

“These people who do not get vaccinated I’m pretty sure they will be the first one’s to get the covid,” said Maara Kenning of Rarotonga, Takitumu Vaka. 

“And so amongst their own cluster, they will probably form that, and where is that going to leave us? Rarotonga, the Cook Islands? We’re just a small country!”

“While it’s still in discussion, we’ll be proposing to our government to decide is what New Zealand is adopting at the moment,” said Williams.

“When you travel to New Zealand you bear the cost for quarantine. So that’s the idea that we are also looking at for those who doesn’t want to get vaccinated,” he said.

There is no set date as to when the vaccine will be available. Te Marae Ora will issue a certificate once vaccinated.

“Yes, I am going to get the vaccine,” said Kenning. 

“Mainly because I am in the vulnerable age group, and I believe it will protect me. I need protection. I want to see my grandchildren, I want to be able to be here with my two girls.”

“I’m still 85 percent convinced,” said Mataroa, “I’ve just got to keep coming to these consultations.”

Another consultation meeting will be held tonight in Puaikura region, and two tomorrow evening Te Au o Tonga and Takitumu regions.