Coronavirus: Kelvin Davis says Govt not to blame for low Māori vaccination rate, blames ignorance instead

The Minister for Māori Crown Relations says it's not just the Government's fault Māori vaccination rates lag behind those of other ethnicities.

Just 21 percent of eligible - aged 12-plus - Māori have had two COVID-19 jabs so far, compared to 35 percent Pakeha and 33 percent overall. They lag behind all other ethnic groups tracked by the Ministry of Health. 

That's despite experts saying Māori are at significantly higher risk of contracting and falling seriously ill from the virus, thanks to their high rates of underlying conditions and socioeconomic factors, such as living conditions and access to healthcare. 

Kelvin Davis told Newshub Nation on Saturday "almost $25 million" has been invested in Māori-centric vaccination efforts, but "people are staying home" instead. 

"That funding has been distributed to Māori organisations along with the message to vaccinate Māori," he told host Orinii Kaipara. She told him "whānau are not heeding the call", and put it to him Labour's Māori caucus failed "by not creating a communications plan specifically for Māori sooner, so the right message reached whānau all across the country".

Davis rejected that. 

"There's no excuse for being ignorant. It's a simple message, go and get vaccinated. It's okay to blame the Government but we have to take responsibility for ourselves as well. The right thing to do is to go and get vaccinated. 

"How many more millions of public funding do we need to keep giving to Māori service providers so more Māori go and get their vaccines? We're saying here's the money, go and inform the Māori communities of the benefits of the vaccine. But at the end of the day, people are staying home."

Māori have only made up 7 percent of the cases in the Delta outbreak, which has largely affected the Pasifika community. 

Unlike many other nations, our Government hasn't set a vaccination target for reopening the borders and dropping restrictions - sticking to the elimination strategy for now. 

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