Coronavirus: Internal investigation launched at Auckland's Manurewa Marae over allegations of 'false vaccinations'

Newshub can reveal a high profile south Auckland marae that's been at the forefront of the city's COVID-19 vaccine rollout has launched an internal investigation over allegations of "false vaccinations" being administered by staff. 

Newshub has obtained copies of emails confirming the investigation at Manurewa Marae. 

It comes as concerns are raised about the marae's links to and support of Destiny Church and its leader Brian Tamaki. 

Staff at Manurewa Marae have administered more than 43,000 vaccines. They've been leaders in the rollout and have focused on the most vulnerable and most at risk. 

But a warning's been sent to via email to staff by CEO Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp.

"There are allegations or rumours circulating the marae by staff members about our vaccination processes with the allegations of 'false vaccinations'," it says.

"Therefore we are currently undergoing an internal investigation as these are serious allegations that put our marae at risk of losing our contracts."

The email goes on to say staff will be interviewed over the matter. 

Manurewa community advocate Te Rata Hikairo is "really concerned" that the marae had to investigate itself.

"I am really concerned that its funders like the Ministry of Health might have to investigate it."

Newshub asked the marae's CEO and chairman to clarify the nature of the issues, but neither was available, according to a spokesperson. However, the Ministry of Health confirmed to Newshub it was aware of the issue and is in communication with the DHB, who is working with the marae in response to the concerns raised.

Manurewa Marae is Hikairo's marae. He's proud of what the marae's achieved and doesn't have detailed knowledge of the allegations. 

But he is worried about the direction the marae's taking, specifically its support of Brian Tamaki, who is a known protester against vaccine mandates and lockdowns.

"It makes no sense," Hikairo says.

He thinks vaccinations should be all that matter. 

"That's what needs to be focused on, not sideshows. Sideshows involving EFTPOS-tle or Apostle or whatever he is called these days. That's got nothing to do with vaccinating and keeping Manurewa safe."

It seems the plight of the Destiny Church leader has become a distraction for management at Manurewa Marae. 

Last week, before Tamaki was released from jail, another email was sent to staff by the CEO.

"Our board and CEO have decided that we will make an appearance and statement supporting Brian, Hannah and their whanau," it says.

"We would like to invite any of our staff to join us to travel to Mt Eden Prison."

Chairman Rangi McLean and others from the marae turned out to rally in support of Tamaki.

"The mana of the marae is at stake, and they're letting it slip away," Hikairo says.

It followed another public show of support from Sonny Wilcox. He's a member of the marae and candidate for Hannah Tamaki's political party, Vision New Zealand. 

He was seen in October wearing a Manurewa Marae-branded jacket during a Facebook live post where he criticised the Government's vaccine programme. 

"The Government is trying to make it a big push for vax, but we are pushing for our freedoms and our rights," he said.

"COVID-19, the Delta strain is not as threatening, dangerous or serious as they have portrayed to us."

But that type of korero is exactly what some fear could unravel the progress made in places like Manurewa Marae.

Newshub understands the "false vaccination" allegations relate to staff not giving a person a vaccine dose, but processing it to say it happened, so the individual ends up with a vaccine pass.

Newshub asked for an on-camera interview with Kemp and McLean to better understand what the investigation into allegations of false vaccinations was about. Newshub was contacted by a spokesperson who said he would check if they were available and if not a statement would be provided.

A statement was never sent. Instead, Newshub was called and told John Tamihere would make contact. 

Tamihere does not affiliate to Manurewa Marae, although he has worked with it in the past, making it a strange offer.

Tamihere told Newshub he didn't think there was any substance to the allegations, although he didn't seem to know where the allegations came from or what exactly they related to.