9 Mar 2022

Ngati Porou will be taking their fight against COVID-19 to the skies once again later this month at a new Whitiki Ngati Porou vaccination event.

On Saturday 19 March, aircraft adorned with the names of the 28 Maori Battalion soldiers from the East Coast, will return to the Ruatoria Aerodrome to promote vaccination to nga uri (descendants) of C Company. But this time, the chance to board one of the Whitiki Ngati Porou aircraft and take a scenic flight around splendid Hikurangi maunga (mountain) will be on offer.

Nurses from Ngati Porou Hauora will be at the Ruatoria airfield for support those that need to receive their booster shot, or first or second jab. Hauora kaimahi will also be available to provide vaccinations for tamariki aged 5 to 11 years.

Mahanga Maru local pilot and founder of Air Ruatoria whose plane bare’s his Dad’s name alongside Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu VC says the focus is on tamariki mokopuna and their parents, with vaccination being the key.

“The whakaaro behind using the names of our C Company soldiers is to remind our people of the sacrifice and commitment our tipuna (ancestors) made on their behalf during World War Two.” said Mr Maru.

Up to 100 Ngati Porou whanau members will be offered a free flight around Hikurangi subject to weather.

To be eligible for a free flight whanau must be vaccinated at the airfield on the day.   

George Reedy, CEO of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou (TRONPnui) says while Tairawhiti data shows that as a region we have achieved 90 percent vaccination rate in adults, our Maori adult population is not quite there with only 86% fully vaccinated.

“We are almost there, but we need to keep pushing through, so if you haven’t yet been vaccinated or if you are needing your 2nd or booster shots please go get it.  The chance to actually experience flying around our sacred maunga Hikurangi is absolutely fantastic!” said Mr Reedy.

The data also shows that 36 percent of Maori tamariki between the ages of 5 and 11 have received their first vaccine in Tairawhiti.

“Mauria a tatau tamariki mokopuna kia werongia i te rongoa arai i te mate korona (Please bring our children to get vaccinated against Covid-19).” said Selwyn Parata, TRONPnui Chair.

Supported by TRONPnui, Toitu Tairawhiti and Te Puni Kokiri, the Whitiki Ngati Porou event will have a festival like atmosphere with free entertainment and kai.  Tamariki eligible for their vaccinations will also get a chance at spinning the prize wheel to take home some fabulous cool prizes.

Whitiki Ngati Porou, Saturday 19 March, 10am to 3pm. 

Ruatoria Aerodrome, Ruatoria

To register or for media enquiries contact: Taryne Papuni Tpapuni@tronp.org.nz