Sunday, November 28

100 years proud to be among those vaccinated in Mōkau


A 100-year-old man was among those vaccinated against Covid-19 in the remote Taranaki-King Country border in Mōkau today.

Mere Wihongi, 100, and her granddaughter Chrisseann Wihongi were among those vaccinated at Mōkau.

Mere Wihongi, 100, and her granddaughter Chrisseann Wihongi were among those vaccinated at Mōkau.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mere Wihongi is old enough to remember the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which killed 9,000 New Zealanders, and was adamant that he was getting the vaccine.

Born in Northland in December 1920, Mere and her granddaughter Chrisseann were among 100 people signed up to get vaccinated in the Tainui Wetere Domain.

More used to hosting post-rugby functions, Maori healthcare provider Tui Ora had transformed the room into a pop-up vaccination clinic.

People waiting to get vaccinated at the Mōkau clinic.

People waiting to get vaccinated at the Mōkau clinic.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Chrisseann Wihongi, who was raised by her grandmother and now cares for her, said it was a great day for Mere.

“She has experienced so many things in her life like Depression. She has experienced many difficulties, so this is a unique moment for her and she realizes that we have to be safe.

“Not just her. We have to protect our families and we have to protect those around us, so it’s very important to her.”

He said it was Mere who insisted on getting an injection after learning of the latest outbreak.

“As soon as he saw Jacinda, he said ‘we have to get vaccinated now,’ so he’s been pushing.

“But everyone is very busy, so we are very grateful that Tui Ora was able to bring service to our small community so that we feel that we are not forgotten and that we matter too.”

A Maori warden gives parking advice at the Mōkau pop-up clinic.

A Maori warden gives parking advice at the Mōkau pop-up clinic.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Tui Ora Lead Clinical Nurse Robyn Taylor said Mere Wihongi was an inspiration.

“Well, she came in with a smile on her face and she’s still here with a smile on her face, so I think she’s a very good example of how to take care of yourself and be proactive and get vaccinated.”

Taylor said it was important to bring the vaccine to remote communities like Mōkau, which had a permanent population of around 120.

“I think because people are isolated here. You know that there are people with transport, but also many people who do not have transport and if we did not come here they probably would not receive the vaccine.

“There are a lot of Maori, a lot of vulnerable people here too, so we wanted to come and be here for them.”

Tui Ora's clinical nurse, Robyn Taylor, completes the paperwork before conducting another vaccination.

Tui Ora’s clinical nurse, Robyn Taylor, completes the paperwork before conducting another vaccination.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Tui Ora had 100 stocks, but hoped to vaccinate more people as families brought older children with them.

Retired farmer Bob Warren is one of those getting hit. It was clear to him why he was there.

“Oh, get this jab and make things safe for everyone around us and keep everything safe.”

He was engrossed in not having to make the hour-long walk to New Plymouth.

“Excellent, very good, excellent, uh, very good. Yes, very good. Catching up with all the locals, yeah. I always thought that, yeah. I thought we’d end up in town.”

Semi-retired farmer Bob Warren was absorbed because he didn't have to drive into town to get vaccinated.

Semi-retired farmer Bob Warren was engrossed because he didn’t have to drive into town to get vaccinated.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Sheep and beef farmer Steve McKenzie was on the same page.

“Oh it’s amazing, it makes it so much easier, especially when we live so far out in the country, we can’t just go to town and take a hit, so yeah, it’s definitely good.”

Sheep and beef farmer Steve McKenzie thought the pop-up clinic was great for low-income farmers.

Sheep and beef farmer Steve McKenzie thought the pop-up clinic was great for low-income farmers.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Jono O’Sullivan, who taught students in Myanmar online, couldn’t blame the service.

“Brilliant, it makes it so much easier. There are a lot of older people in our neighborhood, in our community, so I think this is very good. In fact, I am very grateful.”

Jono O'Sullivan had brought the whole family.

Jono O’Sullivan had brought the whole family.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Patsy Bodger from Tui Ora made sure everyone went home with an aid package.

“So in these packages we have hand sanitizers, soap, wipes, masks … but no toilet paper, okay?”

Patsy Bodger from Tui Ora delivers a care package to a couple after they have completed their observation period.

Patsy Bodger from Tui Ora delivers a care package to a couple after they have completed their observation period.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Steve McKenzie senior thought he was lucky with something tastier.

“Some amazing whitebait, thank you very much!”

Tui Ora will be operating similar pop-up clinics in Urenui and Ōpunake tomorrow.


www.rnz.co.nz

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