Waikato-Tainui respond rapidly with new positive cases.

By Marena Mane

Waikato-Tainui will continue daily hui with Māori health providers and the Waikato DHB to oversee its Covid-19 resurgence plan, now parts of Waikato are in alert level three.

“That gives us a really good line of sight on the activities that are occurring on the ground...continuing with a bit more urgency now that it’s reached our area,” says Jason Ake, Waikato-Tainui's general manager of communications and engagement.

He points to the rapid response of Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki in Kaiaua and Whakatīwai as an example of Māori health providers “who just mobilised and kicked into action.” 

“The same has occurred here in Waikato. Our health providers have a very strong network. They understand, absolutely, where that workforce needs to be sourced from and they just respond. So they're doing that again on our behalf,” he says.

The re-appearance of Covid-19 wasn’t unexpected, according to Ake, and a resurgence plan was put in place last year for the tribe’s 68 marae and local communities.

“Level four in the first lockdown gave us a really good insight into what we needed to do to mobilise ourselves.”

Last week, the tribe carried out a "Max Vax" event where some 700 people were vaccinated.

“94 out of 300 people were aged between 12 and 18 and that's fantastic news for us. Absolutely fantastic.”

More events are planned for the Waikato and South Auckland areas this month, and Waikato-Tainui is looking at creative solutions to increase Māori vaccination rates.

“You give the resource, you give the time to Māori to run these things, and we will come. And so I think that's trusting iwi, Māori health providers, for example. We understand our audiences and our people intimately, and we are better equipped to engage with them.”