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Powerful Alliance Of Māori Organisations Reject Traffic Light System

Over the weekend, a powerful alliance of iwi/Māori representatives gave urgency to deliberating the governments proposed COVID Traffic Light System. Representatives from Urban and Rural Māori, as well as Rangatahi, Hapū and Iwi, health professionals, corporate organisations and respected legacy group Te Rōpū Wahine Māori Toko I Te Ora (Māori Women’s Welfare League) and the NZ Māori Council gave of their time while simultaneously supporting the vaccination drives in their communities.

Lisa Tumahai, Chair Pandemic Response Group, representing the National Iwi Chairs, “we facilitated discussions with a broad range of Māori organisations, despite concerns about the engagement process, the urgency for us is the impact the governments proposed Traffic Light System will have on our whanau.”

“After forming a position on the governments Traffic Light model, a strong joint statement was presented to the Crown last night to make it absolutely clear that we reject the Traffic Light Framework,” explains Mike Smith.

Smith goes on to explain; “we fully understand the need to urgently develop systems to manage Covid within communities, however serious equity issues have yet to be resolved - such as community capacity to manage isolation; hospital capacity to manage extreme cases and care; wrap around care; welfare support and resourcing.”

“Māori and Pacific vaccination rates have to increase to the same level as other New Zealanders otherwise the infection and mortality rate will disproportionally effect our vulnerable communities,” says Ms Tumahai, ‘our focus is now giving priority to keeping our communities safe. We will be developing our plan of action ensuring it provides our whanau, our communities and they will be localised. While the intention is to give priority to our whanau, all plans will be for all in our communities’.

“Very serious issues with the revised Traffic Light Framework were raised by everyone during the several zoom meetings, which are substantial enough to seek further dialogue with the Crown,” says Mike Smith.

Smith goes onto say; “the vaccination strategy failed Māori and Pacific communities, it didn’t recognise the different demographics in our respective communities, Pakeha have a high number amongst its elderly, for us the highest proportion of our population is our youth so when the Governments Tier approach targeted the elderly, it did not reach into our communities.”

“The best way to avoid this disconnect is to involve us in the co-design of strategies and models right from the start,” says Tuamahai, ‘we need transparency of information as soon as cases are identified to be able to support the crisis at hand. We want to move decision making to iwi, hapū and whānau – we have the utmost confidence in our whānau to lead it out.”

Smith agrees, “amongst our alliance, we have world class data modelers, epidemiologists, risk management planners, Mātauranga Māori experts and a network of tribal leaders across both urban and rural communities.”

“This alliance of Maori leadership will continue to meet over the coming weeks to design a road map, identifying the likely scenarios we will need to respond to in the coming months and we will invite the government to work with us to enable the best outcome for our people.” says Ms Tumahai.

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