Whānau Ora back to court as Māori vaccination rates stall

By Te Ao - Māori News

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency Chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says vaccination rates for Māori have gone backwards, despite assurances from Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield that his ministry can lift the lagging Māori rate.

Last week Bloomfield blocked the Wellington High Court decision that would have given Whānau Ora access to data for Māori not yet vaccinated.

Bloomfied said Whānau Ora did not have the capacity or capability to find and then vaccinate whānau. The Whānau Ora collective has vaccinated 520,000+ Kiwis to date.

Bloomfield also claimed whānau would feel bullied by a Māori organisation engaging in conversations about vaccinations. Handing over that data would breach privacy – even though the ministry gives similar data information to non-government third parties without whānau consent.

He further implied allowing Whānau Ora the Māori data was not tikanga-based.

Taxpayers' money

On Monday Whānau Ora dispatched a team of four mobile clinics, staffed by 74 trained Whānau Ora kaimahi to support Te Tai Tokerau deal with the low number of Māori vaccinations in Northand.

Days after Bloomfield’s decision, Northland reported more Covid cases in Kaitaia and whānau also being hospitalised.

Raukawa-Tait said wasting more resource on further legal proceedings was not in anyone’s interests – especially the taxpayers.

“This is a waste of taxpayer money,” she said. “Māori need to be vaccinated and Bloomfield’s ill-advised decision does not help us achieve that.

“Our team in Northland are up against the odds and racing against time. Whānau Ora, through our 88 North Island providers, work together to get our people vaccinated and keep them safe.”

Legal papers appealing Bloomfield’s order will shortly be filed in the Wellington High Court.