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University launches community vaccination clinic on Kīngitanga Day and calls on students to get vaccinated

The University of Waikato is sending a clear signal to students and the wider university community to get vaccinated and will host a vaccination clinic and drive through vaccination service on Thursday, to mark Kīngitanga day.

The clinic will be available to all students, staff and the community but is focused on raising vaccination rates amongst Māori and Pacific students as a priority.

This initiative is a collaboration between kaupapa Māori health provider Ngā Miro Health Centre, K'aute Pasifika, the Waikato District Health Board and the University and is a first to be held on a university campus in New Zealand.

University of Waikato, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori, Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, says the thinking behind providing the clinics as part of the University’s Kīngitanga Day programme was drawn from the words of Kīngi Tūheitia; “Amohia ake te ora o te iwi, ka puta ki te whei ao! The care of the people is paramount, we will get through this.”

The initiative is designed to support increasing Covid-19 vaccination rates among Māori and Pacific communities and builds on the work that Ngā Miro has been doing with the University in a mobile vaccination drive across the University’s Halls of Residence.

“Bringing Ngā Miro, which is located at Tūrangawaewae Marae, and K’aute Pasifika onto campus as part of the Kīngitanga Day programme felt like a natural opportunity. Kīngi Tūheitia’s words provided impetus for the University and further reinforced the connection,” says Dr Tiakiwai.

Vaccination rates among the Māori and Pacific communities are concerning when compared to the New Zealand national average. Some studies also suggest that Pacific people are three times more likely to need hospitalisation when infected with the virus than non-Pacific people and Māori were 2.5 times more likely to need hospitalisation.

University of Waikato, Assistant Vice Chancellor Pacific, Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi, says the clinics are an opportunity to protect communities and keep families safe.

Dr Hemi says Pacific peoples, including Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), had experienced infectious diseases over centuries that had devastating impacts on populations.

“Our ancestors didn’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated. But we do. When we get vaccinated, we are protecting our aiga, our tamariki and older people, and our communities – and keeping that from happening again.”

Dr Hemi says holding the clinics on Kīngitanga Day with Māori and Pacific health providers already working with communities is a privilege and a chance to awhi the wider whānau and community.

While the clinic is to support Māori and Pacific communities to get vaccinated, it also provides an opportunity for staff, students, and the wider community to get their vaccinations against Covid-19.

The vaccination clinic will be open from 10am - 3pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts and a drive through clinic will also be available at Gate 2B, Knighton Road.

The vaccination clinics are a drop-in service, so no set appointment is necessary, but people attending need to use reasonable precautions including wearing a mask and remaining appropriately distanced.

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