COVID-19: NZ town offering vouchers, iPads for getting Pfizer jab in bid to boost Māori vaccination rates

All of Northland will be happy with the news they will likely be coming out of alert level 4 on Thursday night.

But the small town of Moerewa has even more reason to smile. Get vaccinated there and you'll not only drastically reduce your chance of getting COVID-19, you could also score an iPad.

The Prime Minister had a prize for the Far North on Monday, promising that if waste water testing shows no sign of coronavirus, Northland goes to alert level 3 - lockdown with takeaways.

"Pleased we will be joining the rest of the country, frustrated we had to be treated differently and fingers crossed we get no cases between now and then," said Whāngarei Mayor Sheryl Mai.

Over in Moerewa - population 1850 - there's another prize on offer; three $200 grocery vouchers a day are being given away to those getting the jab, and once a week an iPad's up for grabs.

It's an effort to boost Māori vaccination rates, in particular. Māori are the ethnic group least likely to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Up north, a COVID-19 outbreak would mean overwhelming the local hospitals and putting kaumatua at risk.

"If we had a large influx of very ill people we would be really struggling, and that's what we are trying to prevent," said Polly Brennan of the Ngāti Hine Health Trust.

News of the prize draw is especially welcome at a time people are worried about their paychecks - but the real drawcard in Moerewa is what the vaccine itself offers.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust isn't alone in offering vaccine incentives - Mainpower in Canterbury is offering an extra day of leave for vaccinated employees.

In the United States, Ohio ran million-dollar prize draws. In New York, it was cash for everyone.

And whether or not there are prizes on offer, let's be honest - during lockdown, getting vaccinated might just be the most exciting thing you do this week.