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Wairarapa Black Power supports vaccine drive

Wairarapa Black Power advocate Andrew Gaoa at the pop-up Hauora clinic. PHOTO/FILE

SUE TEODORO
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Wairarapa Black Power has supported the government’s vaccine drive by hosting a pop-up Hauora [health and wellbeing] clinic.

The organisation’s regional advocate Andrew Gaoa held an informal gathering at his home on Sunday for people to drop by, socialise and ask questions. The vaccine was available for people who wanted it.

He hoped this would provide a welcoming space and encourage those who wanted to get vaccinated against covid.

He said Black Power groups across New Zealand were getting behind a range of similar activities.

“I wanted to do something for the community on behalf of Black Power. We are all doing this for our communities,” he said.

Gaoa was double vaccinated.

“I didn’t have any problems with it at all. I feel healthy.”

“It [the vaccine] will help me and my family stay healthy. It will help keep my family safe,” he said.

The day was about much more than vaccines, with a hangi, music and activities for the children.

“I just wanted to create the space. It’s up to people to make their own minds up at the end of the day,” he said.

“I thought maybe I could reach out to people who don’t feel comfortable going to other places. It’s about getting everyone over the line.

“Everyone’s invited. There’s a lot of information on social media out there scaring people. This is my way to help,” Gaoa said.

The pop-up comes as Wairarapa DHB and Tekau Ma Iwa in Masterton have organised a series of vaccination and Hauora drives across the region.

Many Maori and Pasifika in Wairarapa are unvaccinated, although numbers are going up.

The latest vaccine statistics show 85 per cent of all Wairarapa residents have had their first dose, with 71 per cent fully vaccinated. However, for Maori, the numbers were markedly lower, at 68 and 47 per cent respectively.

Tekau Ma Iwa kaitataki [team leader], Jake Carlson, said Gaoa’s event was an example of creating space for high-quality information to be given to Maori.

“It is information from Maori healthcare professionals that are Wairarapa-based.”

Carlson said the efforts of clinics like Tekau Ma Iwa showed vaccine numbers heading in the right direction.

“This is a journey. We see our role as coming alongside whanau to hold space for those important conversations kanohi ki te kanohi [face-to-face].

A Wairarapa DHB spokesperson said all vaccination clinics and mobile opportunities worked hard to encourage cultural diversity.

They said Tekau Ma Iwa was an Iwi-led clinic running a kaupapa Maori service. It offered vaccinations in its clinic on Chapel St in Masterton.

Tekau Ma Iwa also ran the Hauora Clinics in the community, where people were welcome to drop in.

The clinics were an opportunity to talk about general health issues and get healthcare advice. They were also an opportunity to ask questions about covid vaccines and be vaccinated if they wanted to.

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