Kia ora, my name is Bonnie Matehaere (Ngāti Raukawa) and I am part of the team that has been working to vaccinate the community I grew up in against Covid-19.
With a 41.1 percent Māori population, Ōtaki has been an important focus of the MidCentral DHB’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout. Māori and Pasifika people are significantly more likely to get seriously ill if they catch Covid-19 and as a result, we needed to prioritise getting the vaccine to our communities.
Our iwi know their hapū and whānau, and they engage with people directly in a way that we would have been unable to replicate as a DHB. It has been a privilege to have played a role in working directly with iwi providers to facilitate and run Covid-19 vaccination clinics.
With the help and assistance of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki and Ngāti Kapumanawawhiti, the team was able to prioritise Māori and work to remove barriers that our people might have previously experienced when seeking healthcare. They helped us to identify those who were most vulnerable, and supported kaumātua and kuia to lead the way for their whānau to get vaccinated.
Our iwi already held the tools to bring people in the door; all we needed to do was supply the matauranga (knowledge), the kaimahi (staff) and the vaccine.
Along the way we have had to adapt to the challenges of lockdown but as Māori we adapt, and our iwi continue to care for our people. We have worked to prioritise Māori and Pasifika, while providing manaakitanga to anyone who came to a clinic, regardless of ethnicity.
Looking forward, it is reassuring to know that more than 70 percent of people in Ōtaki have received at least one dose. This provides motivation for us to keep going after five long months and to strive towards the bigger goal.
We’ve been able to collaborate with Ōtaki Medical Centre, with their team running clinics alongside iwi. Their team attended the big drive-through clinic at Ōtaki-Māoari Racing Club and recently another large clinic at Ngā Purapura.
This is partnership in action, with the continued support from our DHB and other iwi providers within the rohe.
During the clinics, we have met people who have lived for a long time, who have long-term conditions and those who are immuno-suppressed. We are given the opportunity to sit with them and kōrero about the reasons why they are here being vaccinated.
Many of them know that if they were to contract such a virus, the chances of them surviving would be low.
It’s my view that as their whānau, as kaitiaki, as mokopuna, as tamariki – we need to protect these people by getting vaccinated and reducing the risk of spreading the virus. For me, it’s not about us, it’s about protecting each other, protecting our tikanga and our marae, and coming out of this pandemic, stronger than we started.
If you would like to receive your first or second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, or if you have any questions, we will be holding a clinic at Ngā Purapura, Ōtaki on Friday, November 5, and again on Friday, November 19.
Don’t wait any longer whānau. See you there!
 2018 Census