The message from Hon. Peeni Henare is simple, “the vaccine is free and there is enough for everyone in Aotearoa”.
The Associate Minister for Health (Maori) kicked off his haerenga around the motu in Tamaki Makaurau earlier in April arriving in Tairawhiti for parakuihi at Te Tini o Porou in Kaiti, Turanga before heading off to Ruatoria for a community hui held at Uepohatu.
The purpose of his visits was to have kanohi-ki-te-kanohi korero with our people about the importance of being vaccinated and to elevate anxiety about the Pfizer vaccine.
The Minister’s visit coincided with the launch of the Toitu Tairawhiti Iwi COVID Vaccination Communications Plan which aims to support and encourage our Ngati Porou, Rongowhaakata, Ngai Tamanuhiri, and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki people to make informed decisions, and ultimately the right decision to receive the COVID vaccination.
Joining the discussion at breakfast were Dr Osman Mansoor, Kim Ngarimu - Chair of Hauora Tairawhiti and a health and port worker who shared their views on the Pfizer vaccine and why they believe people should get vaccinated.
Ngati Porou pakeke Mary Sturm voiced her concerns about the vaccine in relation to older people prone to blood clotting.
Dr Osman Mansoor responded in saying there had been over 800 million doses of the vaccine given worldwide, with one report of blood clotting, however this case was not associated with the Pfizer vaccine.
Following parakuihi the Minister headed to Ruatoria where around 60 people gathered to hear what the Minister, health officials and Ngati Porou Hauora representatives had to say.
Vans organised by Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou were available for pakeke who wanted to come to the hui.
Radio Ngati Porou broadcast the hui live, ensuring people listening in could be informed and included in the discussions back home.
Data shows that Maori are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19.
The Minister spoke of his 83-year-old nanny being the motivator in getting vaccinated himself along with his wider whanau.
“We couldn’t put her at risk of getting COVID-19” he said.
Talk of the vaccination roll-out brought back memories of Ngati Porou iwi, hapu and whanau’s successful response in keeping COVID-19 out of the Ngati Porou Rohe during lockdown almost a year ago.
One speaker acknowledged the efforts and important mahi done by the Coast’s essential workers, including community groups who provided checkpoints, kai, firewood, as well as the NPH nurses that became mobile, delivering flu jabs to pakeke during lockdown.
“All I want to know is if our people are going to be resourced properly during the vaccination roll out.”
Once the hui was over the Minister turned ringawera helping dry the dishes after a delicious kai and when it was time for him to leave he was serenaded by the beautiful ‘nannies’ from Tokomaru Akau in the newly completed carpark.
Vaccinations will begin to roll out through Tairawhiti communities in May until July.