Waipareira amps up COVID-19 testing for Māori/Pasifika

By Aroha Mane

The Government wants increased testing for COVID-19. The highest number of tests carried out in one day amounted to more than 2,500.  But many Māori and Pacific communities are worried testing has come too late for them. So Māori organisations like Te Whānau o Waipareira are setting up their own testing centres for whānau.

Māori Community Based Assessment Centers (CBAC) are lifting their testing capabilities for COVID-19 in their communities.

“We're asking whānau not to wait. To get down here if you've got any symptoms, come down and have a test,” says Ngaire Paris, Te Whānau o Waipareira health worker.

Te Whānau o Waipareira Chief Executive John Tamihere is concerned that testing for Māori and Pacific has been left too late, and priority needs to be given to these communities.

“The rules have been made for the well-off middle class who have come across the border carrying and then have mixed with their people and spread it amongst their people.

“But their people have spread it amongst our people and our people were the last to be tested. That means our tests are way behind and we have to lift them,” Tamihere says.

Te Whānau o Waipareira has enlisted the support of other Māori organisations to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Paris says, “We've got a lot of queues, we've got a lot of people waiting for a long time and we're trying to de-escalate.

“So we've got our Māori wardens here and they're de-escalating. But we've got a really good crew keeping the traffic coming through.”

This CBAC has a series of tents operating on-site likened to an Emergency Room. Patients first go to triage before they are referred on to doctors and nurses.

“They'll take your details, you'll have some questions with the symptoms. Have you been overseas? Have you been close to those who have been confirmed? Have you been near those clusters where there has been an outbreak? All of those things will be asked at that tent, then you move to this other tent behind me. That's where you have a nasal swab and they're going to start doing some oral swabs.”

Those tested are given information to take home and a follow-up call is made if required.

*If you have any concerns, check out the official COVID-19 website or ring the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.