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South Auckland Marae Leaders & Māori Health Providers Feeling Pressures Mount In Spike Of Community Transmission

“One Test Doesn’t Mean You’re OK”

Leaders of Manurewa Marae, Papakura Marae, Te Puea Memorial Marae and Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Turuki Healthcare and the Manukau Urban Māori Authority are feeling pressures mount at ground zero in the latest lockdown due to the spike in community transmission.

With some way to go before the vaccine arrives in South Auckland, the need to control and contain COVID remains front and centre for the group.

Several are encouraging priority testing to be elevated in Māori communities regardless of symptoms or contact, to create and maintain a sense of safety.

“One test doesn’t mean you’re okay. Given the complexities of this virus, our communities need to continue to get tested, and more than once to achieve visibility on it,” says Bernie O’Donnell, Chair of Manukau Urban Māori Authority.

Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp, CEO of Manurewa Marae questioned the officials’ wisdom of only a 72 hour lockdown last month.

“We came out of the three-day lockdown too earlier. There wasn’t enough time to consider the impact of those that either didn't get tested or weren't following the rules.”

“Continuing to raise the awareness and importance of our whānau and hapori to get tested and self-isolate is our focus. To protect our whakapapa, we need more ‘COVID’ resources funding to our community,” she said.

Over the weekend Turuki Healthcare tested more than 3 times the number of people compared to the day before – just under 300 whānau were tested in a single lane set up.

While the large testing sites for bulk numbers remain, Māori health providers are taking pop-up testing sites to the people where they are most likely to engage. Ngā Whare Waatea Marae will stand one up this Friday.

“Māori providers have the bandwidth to test whānau and later, vaccinate in a range of settings. Over 18 of our nurses and admin staff have been trained in delivering the Pfizer vaccinations to Border staff and enter data into the new CIR system,” Turuki Healthcare CEO, Te Puea Winiata said.

The need for more information on what the vaccine actually does is a common question.

“Does it mean we no longer have to quarantine, are there any side effects, what will be the impact on pre-existing health conditions and what happens if you refuse to take the vaccine?” says Huri Dennis, CEO of Te Puea Memorial Marae.

Now more than ever the leaders say that partnerships are even more important.

“We are well past prioritising testing in South Auckland. Doing what we can to the best of our ability with the resources we have at hand is our reality not priority,” says Tony Kake, CEO of Papakura Marae.

“We are happy to help relieve the pressure at COVID testing sites so - nau mai, haere mai whānau.”


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