Significant support goes to Maori and whānau most at risk of COVID-19

Associate Minister for Health (Māori) Hon Peeni Henare is pleased to confirm that the timing and sequencing of the COVID-19 Vaccine Programme has a strong focus on protecting Māori whānau.

“The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the largest and most intensive vaccination programme the health sector has ever embarked on and we are ensuring that whānau are at the centre,” Peeni Henare said.

“We know Māori are more likely to be worse off from the effects of COVID-19. That is why Māori needs are at the forefront of the Government’s Vaccination Programme.

“Our plan is simple – first protect whānau most at risk of picking up the virus in their workplace, in doing so reducing the risk of future outbreaks and then protecting our elders who are most at risk of getting seriously ill if they get the virus.

“We know that elder Māori and Pacific peoples are more likely to live with whānau rather than in an aged care facility. This is why from this month we are allocating 40,000 vaccine courses to Māori and Pacific health providers to target vaccinations within the communities they service in order to reach these people.

“This is a by Māori for Māori approach to this component of our vaccine roll-out.

“When a kuia or koroua go to get vaccinated, their whānau members who live with them will also be able to be vaccinated at the same time – this whānau-centred approach means that an entire whānau can be vaccinated altogether and will help to keep our people safe.

“We are taking a flexible and whānau-centred approach that focuses on the protection of our kuia and koroua and those with long term health conditions as a priority.

“Māori health providers and communities know what’s best for their people, it’s important that there is flexibility in the roll out of the programme to ensure Māori do not miss out on the vaccination.

“We live in large, intergenerational whānau so it just makes sense to vaccinate an entire whānau at the same time to ensure the best possible protection for our kaumatua and those with long term health conditions.

“We‘re also recognising the special circumstances of South Auckland by prioritising those who live there who are most at risk of picking up or getting the virus, many of whom will be Māori. 

“Two of our major outbreaks have been geographically based in South Auckland. Our approach brings forward to this month the start of vaccinations for anyone aged over 65 or who has underlying health conditions that live in the Counties Manakau catchment.

“This is about protecting our whānau, hapu, iwi and our whakapapa and we are ensuring that those most at risk of getting sick from the virus are prioritised in getting the vaccine.

The Government has also committed dedicated funding and resources for Māori communities to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Initial funding of approximately $39 million will ensure Māori communities and providers are prepared for the roll out of the COVID-19 programme in their communities. An initial 40,000 courses of the COVID-19 Vaccine will be provided specifically for Māori and Pasifika health providers. Giving the providers the flexibility to best meet the health needs of people they meet with.

The funding and vaccine allocation is as follows:

  • $24.5 million for the development of community-based vaccine support services that will support Māori Health Providers to engage and prepare their communities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme
  • $11 million to be provided directly to Māori Health Providers to help build provider infrastructure and workforce capability
  • $2 million for iwi to deliver dedicated and tailored communications campaigns to their whānau
  • $1.5 million for workforce development
  • 40,000 courses of the COVID-19 vaccine as a starting point for Māori and Pasifika health providers.

“This initial funding will support preparedness and readiness for the COVID-19 Vaccine Programme and the Ministry of Health is working to identify further funding requirements for delivery and roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine to Māori communities.

The Ministry of Health will provide more detail about the funding provisions for Māori Health Providers in the near future.

“We need to constantly remember that this is about the protection of our whānau. My wero is to hold open korero, encourage everyone around you to think about what is important and how best we can work together to protect our whānau, hapu and iwi. We are all whānau influencers and we all have a part to play to protect our whānau,” Peeni Henare said.