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National Maori Authority Welcomes The Governments New COVID19 Approach

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has welcomed the move away from the current Alert Level system and towards what is called the “Traffic Light System” indicating that it provides New Zealanders, and Maori, with much more certainty in terms of the plan ahead. Tukaki who was involved in meetings with Ministers over the course of the last week made it clear that there needed to be a Maori Response column next to the public health response indicators to more clearly map out how resources were to be applied to lift the Maori vaccination rates while also calling on more red tape and barriers be pulled down for those providing direct services such as Hauora. Tukaki also said that he was reluctant to support a shift to Auckland to Alert Level 4 in the current system, worried about the mental health and fatigue that many were facing. Tukaki also advocated strongly for a new fund to be established through Te Puni Kokiri to enable Maori communities to find the work they were undertaking as well as the ongoing response. Tukaki reiterated his message that “death is at the gate of our whare, wanting to walk up that path and knock on the door – death actually doesn’t care that we don’t want to answer its coming in anyway – the greatest tool in our arsenal is the vaccination and that must be our priority” Tukaki was referring to the high number of Maori cases of COVID19 in the current outbreak as well as the recent death.

Tukaki has welcomed the certainty for business – particularly for small business “small business is the backbone of our economy and its time to get them moving again – get them pumping in a safe and healthy way”

“The current Alert level system has served us well in an environment that was writ large with changes based on our reaction to outbreaks. There are some things that we learnt from previous pandemics such as the Spanish Flu and also Polio in the fifties but largely we are facing bigger problems because the world, and our country, operates vastly differently. The pressure and impact on peoples wellbeing, mental health and financial security must sit alongside that of our ongoing health response. The reality is that COVID19 is here to stay so the best question we can ask ourselves is what do we need to do to take our response to the next level” Tukaki said

“Rolling lockdowns need to be a thing of the past and we need a much more targeted approach to, if necessary, win street by street in this battle against Delta. That has to mean jabs in arms and also be unapologetic about unleashing the very known potential of the Maori response. We need to unleash the army of young people to speak directly to young people, unleash the army of nannies and aunties to further encourage those in the age groups of forty up and to be frank we need to harden our resolve against misinformation in the community. That’s going to take all of us to not just sit idly by and allow the sorts of conspiracy theorists to ply their trade but push back against it.” Tukaki said

“We also welcome the standing up of additional funds for Maori organisations to really boost the response to COVID19 and also more work on the shifting of barriers so we can get rid of any remaining log jams – this is where we are at – the point end of this current outbreak and we need our organisations free from the shackles of bureaucracy to get the job done. I’ll further say this; for all the yelling by some out there, including Opposition politicians, about the Governments response I would much rather has Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Peeni Henare, Willie Jacksons and Andrew Littles hands on the tiller than the other lot. We can wax lyrical about what could have been done, what might have been done and what should have been done but let’s save that for when the job is done. And that needs to be our focus right now.” Tukaki said

Tukaki reiterated his message to Maori – “We have been here before, we know how this ends if we do not get it right – bodies in boxes, standing over a hole talking about all the things that should have been done. When someone is in the box its too late, when someone has been lowered into that hole, its too late. From the Spanish Flu that ripped through our Maori communities to the Polio outbreak, to TB and other diseases – we are a people that must survive in order to thrive. We cannot do that if Maori are weigh laid by the Coronavirus”

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