Locals in Kāwhia are shocked today after learning about a Covid-19 case in their community on Wednesday.
A community response is now underway to test and vaccinate as many whānau as possible after the individual was identified as a young man, who was placed in isolation.
Raukura Hauora chief executive Terina Moke is leading the response, saying locals are worried and scared.
“This has resulted in people actually coming out to be tested and to be vaccinated, which is great,” she says.
Moke says they were able to construct vaccination and testing stations at Maketu Marae quickly because of the dedication of Māori health providers,
“Tomorrow, we're on the other side of the harbour to Taharoa at 10am and then 1.30pm at Marokopa and then back to Kāwhia on Saturday, but we are going at the pace which Kāwhia Moana wants. They want to get tested and vaccinated as fast as possible.”
According to Moke, an outbreak in the community would be disastrous since Kāwhia is isolated, with an ageing population consisting mostly of Māori.
“You don't have to look back in terms of health statistics for the Māori population here - it would rip through Kāwhia, which would be devastating.”
As a provider, Moke feels that it is all about establishing trust, being nice, and leading by example to encourage people to come forward.
“Really we just want to find out how far this thing has spread, and we want to deal to it, and we want to support the whānau.”
Vaccination rates in Kāwhia
Vaccination rates in Kāwhia aren't great, according to Moke but one thing to note is that more Māori come forward to Māori health providers than Pākehā health providers.
“There's always a lot of hesitancy but actually what is good about our people is, once you give them good information, they make really good decisions, and actually the uptake around vaccinations increases.”
"To the point where people are making the comment they didn't realise that there were so many people in Kāwhia, with the length of lines, so for me, it's a good sign," Moke says of the community's reaction to be tested and vaccinated.