Māori King Kīngi Tūheitia, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu join chorus for Māori to get vaccinated amid efforts to lift Māori vaccination rates

There's an upsurge in efforts to lift Māori vaccination rates this week, with extra services rolling out in Māori communities across Aotearoa. 

On Monday, two Māori powerhouses joined the chorus for Māori to get vaccinated. 

Māori King Kīngi Tūheitia and Sir Tumu Te Heuheu are spearheading a new campaign that aims to see more Māori protected against COVID-19, sooner rather than later. 

Waipareira health workers are kicking into overdrive, taking their mahi to west Auckland streets with a Shot Bro bus and a pop-up station setup outside Toby's in Massey - where more than 20,000 Māori call home. 

South of the Auckland border at Tūrangawaewae Marae, a campaign is underway which is spearheaded by the two Māori monarchs.

Tā Tumu Te Heuheu and Kingi Tūheitia are both fully vaccinated and advocating other Māori to follow suit. 

Kiingitanga spokesperson Ngira Simmonds says: "this isn't a directive, it's an encouragement, based on personal experience to our people". 

The current COVID-19 outbreak forced the annual koroneihana event to be cancelled again. It would have been King Tuheitia's 15th anniversary. 

Now plans are underway to safeguard future Kingitanga events with the possibility of mandatory vaccinations.

"We haven't made a decision yet. It's not something that we'll rush to do but we are considering our obligations and what we have to do to ensure thousands turn up here," Simmonds says.

Only a handful of people turned up on Monday - mostly the young. 

Ngā Miro Health manager Glenda Raumati says those aged 40 years and under are the most hesitant but are being urged to come forward. 

"Getting two little pricks is so much better than being on a ward in ICU," she told Newshub.

On Saturday a pop-up vaccination drive-through clinic is being set up at Hopuhopu. The aim will be to jab at least 1000 people. 

Now they've incentivised that initiative offering up to $5000 worth of cash prizes including an all-expenses paid trip to Rarotonga. 

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