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NHHT Takes 'No Barriers' Approach To Vaccinate At-risk Māori Communities

Ngāti Hine Health Trust has ramped up efforts to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations to its most vulnerable communities within Te Porowini o Ngāti Hine and Whangārei.

Geoff Milner, CEO for Ngāti Hine Health Trust, says while the lockdown has restricted movement to stop Covid-19 transmission, it’s only a temporary measure. He says the current outbreak of the Delta variant shows its highly transmissible and potentially lethal. Before restrictions are eased, he’s encouraging whānau intending to get vaccinated, to act now.

“This is an opportune time for whānau to get vaccinated. Lockdown has already had a huge impact on whānau wellbeing, for example, limiting our ability to provide the manaakitanga when our whānau are mauiui and during tangihanga. We have the ability to future-proof our immune systems so that it lessens the impact of Covid-19.”

Geoff says while there are equity issues to be addressed, the immediate need to provide for whānau saw the Trust, working with hapū and marae of Ngāti Hine, to adopt a ‘no barriers’ approach for whānau to access vaccinations including:

  • In your neighbourhood approach: The deployment of a mobile service to deliver vaccinations in rural areas and high Māori populations
  • Increase access to vaccinations: Ngāti Hine Health Trust have provisioned two vaccination locations: Whangārei at 5 Walton Street, Moerewa at the Moerewa Christian Centre with a third one being deployed in Kawakawa.
  • Weekend schedule: The centres are open from Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm and Saturday 10:00am to 2:00pm.
  • No bookings required: Prior to Alert Level 4, bookings were essential. Due to the low uptake in vaccinations amongst Māori communities, bookings for whānau are not required and walk-ins are welcomed.
  • No masks: Masks are provided to meet mandatory requirements to those getting vaccinated (and those in their bubble).

Ngāti Hine Health Trust has provided additional support since lockdown began, delivering 200 Kete Koha packs (Hygiene, PPE and grocery voucher) to kuia, kaumatua and vulnerable whānau. “We’ll be looking to ramp up that support from next week as a Level 4 extension could be possible.”

The nationwide roll-out has seen over 1.1 million second doses administered, just over 100,000 were Māori. Covid-19 health statistics showed vaccination uptake for Māori in Te Taitokerau was well-below expectations, it’s a challenge Ngāti Hine Health Trust is set to improve.

“We’ll continue to take a proactive stance with vaccinations for the wellbeing of all whānau here in Te Taitokerau. Our demograph is a lot younger so there will be a focus on meeting the needs of rangatahi, so that they’re well informed to choose to vaccine.

“We recognised earlier that this was going to be a marathon with sprints in between. Delta has changed the way the marathon needs to be run so we’re shifting the way we deliver to our communities. The goal for us is that all whānau Māori are vaccinated so they’re better prepared to live in this Covid-19 environment.”

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