Thursday, December 9

Big push to vaccinate Maori and Pasifika youth in Dunedin

Almost 1,000 people have been vaccinated on the first day of a pop-up clinic targeting Maori and Pasifika youth in Dunedin.

People wait at the Dunedin vaccination clinic.

People wait at the Dunedin vaccination clinic.
Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

The two-day clinic at Forsyth Barr Stadium is run by Te Kāika, owned by Ngāi Tahu, with the support of Te Roopū Māori and the University of Otago Pacific Islands Student Association.

The clinic has the capacity to vaccinate more than 3,000 people a day and more are expected to arrive tomorrow when it opens at noon.

Almost 62 percent of cases in the current outbreak are among those under 30 years of age.

Concerned about the lack of urgency in vaccinating Maori and Pasifika youth in Dunedin, university students worked with Ngāi Tahu-owned healthcare provider Te Kāika to organize today’s clinic.

The president of the University of Otago Pacific Islands Students Association, Melissa Lama, said the young Pasifika and Māori had ties to Auckland and Wellington, highlighting the current outbreak.

“Although we are not in South Auckland and we are not in Wellington or Auckland in general, his children are here. His family members are here and not only that, we have a play to play. That is our way of recognizing how serious it is. the pandemic and I wish it was valued more than we did before. “

The perception of young people, and young Maori and Pasifika in particular, of not doing their part to fight the pandemic is wrong, Lama said.

This two-day vaccination campaign gave them the opportunity to prove it.

“I think for us this is the best we can do right now, to make sure we get vaccinated,” he said.

“But by doing that, we want to address any anxiety and concerns that students have regarding this Covid vaccine. Therefore, we are trying to provide a space that is culturally safe and also show that a space run by Maori and the Pacific it is open to all. “

One person is given a dose at the event.

One person is given a dose at the event.
Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

To that end, he was leading from the front and already had his first dose.

Te Roopū Māori director Karamea Pēwhairangi said that a youth clinic run by youth was important.

“I was in the same boat, feeling a bit anxious to go and get vaccinated. And what’s important to us is seeing our whānau and friends and our community is there to support us and encourage us to get vaccinated.”

A team of 300 student volunteers raised their hands to help lead their classmates to the clinic and monitor them after the jab.

It was another example of how young people are doing their part to fight the pandemic, Pēwhairangi said.

“There is a proverb that says ‘The leader is in front, the support is behind’, and although we are the leader in front, there is a lot of support behind.”

Twenty cases from the current outbreak were now linked to Auckland University of Technology and many sites around the campus were marked as places of interest.

Te Kāika director Matapura Ellison said that shows the importance of vaccinating young people and particularly vulnerable Maori and Pasifika.

“Student life involves coming together in class and if there is a possibility that we are really helping to mitigate that risk, then I think it is money well spent and resources, vaccines, well used.”

Among those who received their vaccinations were University of Otago students Te Awanui Waaka and Hinemoa Watene.

The couple, both originally from Te Ika-a-Māui, said it was about protecting the community.

Hinemoa Watene and Te Awanui Waaka were among those who received a dose.

Hinemoa Watene and Te Awanui Waaka were among those who received a dose.
Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

“I did it not only for myself, but also for my whānau and my family, as well as for New Zealand to get vaccinated, get out of lockdown and get back to normal,” Waaka said.

“I just wanted to play my role as part of this community and give back to those who have been working hard behind the scenes, our front-line workers, to make sure their whānau are protected,” Watene said.

The clinic will be operational again at the stadium tomorrow from 12:00 to 19:00.

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