Coronavirus: South Auckland Māori doctors, community leaders ensuring no one's left behind in vaccine roll-out

With Māori COVID-19 vaccination rates trailing behind, a group of street heroes have pulled together making sure no whānau are left behind.

Māori doctors, community leaders, and more have been heading to the streets of south Auckland to engage and connect to our most vulnerable and korero kānohi ki te kānohi (face to face).

COVID vaccinations operations lead Summer Hawke says they're being led by their hearts but also by the data.

"They're the suburbs that we have the most Māori left to vaccinate," she says.

These areas include Papakura, Manurewa and Māngere.

Manurewa Marae opened their wharenui in April as a vaccination centre and has been doing the hard yards within their community ever since. Their vaccination bus 'Shot Cuz' and other mobile units have also been running sites across south Auckland. CEO Natasha Kemp says it's time to switch things up a bit.

"We're now down to those whānau that are hesitant. That may still have social issues, you know, no transport, you know, a single parent at home with multiple tamariki, and we need to be able to change up our approach."

Literally going door-to-door is the next step.

"It's a long road and the hardest but it is about building trusting relationships. Relationships are everything out here in our community, you know, and if people don't see you or if they don't know who you are, they're not going to come to your clinic."

The team of Māori doctors were making house calls and answering any pātai or queries that came their way. Dr Lily Fraser from Turuki Healthcare was one of them and their intentions were very clear.

"The focus of this kaupapa wasn't just on getting vaccinations but really, for us, we wanted to provide people the opportunity to speak with a friendly face, somebody that has good knowledge about vaccination but wasn't going to pressure people to just do it," she says.

"You know, this wasn't a mandate. This was just about being available to answer people's questions. And the result was actually a lot of them decided to get vaccinated."

It's still a long road ahead to increase the Māori vaccination rates but this team of 'street heroes' are doing all they can to make a difference.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.

Coronavirus: South Auckland Māori doctors, community leaders ensuring no one's left behind in vaccine roll-out