‘Rushed and risky’ - Green Party warns against Govt's covid plan

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The Green Party says the government is moving to a new COVID-19 response strategy before New Zealand is ready.

The government’s Covid-19 protection framework involves a ‘traffic-light’ system to replace alert levels once all DHBs hit a 90 percent vaccination rate.

“But the proposed vaccination targets are insufficient to protect the most vulnerable and risk opening up NZ before everyone is safe on an equal basis,” claims Green Party COVID-19 spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

Māori vaccination rates are still well below the national target. Only 67% (384,711) of eligible Māori have had one dose and just 46% (265,424) are fully vaccinated.

Green Party Health spokesperson, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere says this exposes Māori and Pasifika to greater risk.

“They are far more likely to have underlying health conditions. They are also more likely to be living in communities where COVID spreads more easily, and working in high-risk jobs.”

Māori Funding 

The government says the $120m will deliver local vaccination initiatives under its new protection framework, in a phased roll-out.

It will target rangatahi, whānau without permanent housing, whānau in rural and remote locations, and whānau not well connected to health services.

The government recognises local iwi, Māori organisations and providers are best placed to reach and support these groups. But Kerekere says there's more to be done, including GPs working with Māori.

“We want to see resources being distributed to sports teams, kapahaka leaders, Māori Wardens, Church leaders, as well as enabling people to hold wānanga and talanoa with vaccine hesitant whānau/aiga."