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Iwi leaders encourage vaccination

Jason Kerehi, Sophronia Mete-Smith, Triny Ruhe, Meka Whaitiri, and Ronald Karaitiana outside Wairarapa’s iwi-led covid vaccination clinic. PHOTO/FILE

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane iwi leaders are calling for whanau to get vaccinated against covid-19, while an online panel of experts gears up to answer common questions about the vaccine tonight.

Spurred by the government’s announcement that the country would move into Alert Level 4, iwi leaders met to ensure whanau remained safe.

Rangitane o Wairarapa chairwoman Tiraumaera Te Tau said vaccinations were key in efforts against the virus.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way we can keep our whanau safe against covid-19,” she said.

Iwi and Maori providers first came together during last year’s lockdown, closing marae, suspending hui, and creating protocols to help whanau deal with tangihanga.

The providers also worked with hapu and community leaders to get kai and hygiene packs out to those in need.

Kahungunu ki Wairarapa general manager Tai Gemmell said the lessons learnt from the 2020 lockdown had given leaders a template for their resurgence plan.

“The key message to whanau at this stage is to stay home and stay safe until the extent of this outbreak is better known. There is no need to risk our safety by venturing out.”

Leaders were concerned about the increasing number of whanau who were reluctant or unsure about taking the vaccine.

Both Rangitane and Kahungunu were united on the kaupapa for whanau to get vaccinated.

“If you are unsure about the vaccination, please ring your iwi or Maori providers Te Hauora and Whaiora. They are more than ready to help you with the information you might need to make the right decision,” Gemmell said.

Ko Wairarapa Tenei, the pandemic response for Maori, will host a Facebook Live discussion tonight [Wednesday] to answer common questions about vaccinations.

Chaired by Kahungunu ki Wairarapa pou rerenga-panui [spokesperson] Sophronia Mete-Smith, the expert panel would include Dr Marise Stuart, a clinical general practitioner and former head girl at Wairarapa College; Triny Ruhe, Whaiora general manager; Dr Jared Green, clinical adviser to the covid-19 immunisation and vaccination programme; and Mereana Jasmin, a registered nurse and former Whaiora staff member.

Wairarapa’s vaccinations centres are located at the Departmental Building in Masterton, Featherston Community Centre, and Tekau Ma Iwa behind Whaiora. To book an appointment, call 0800 28 29 26.

To access the Ko Wairarapa Tenei discussion, visit https://fb.me/e/EuUuFSUT at 7pm tonight, or tune in to Wairarapa TV.

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