Coronavirus: 90 pct vaccine target 'the right solution' despite concerns Māori may be left behind - Willie Jackson

New Zealand's target to vaccinate 90 percent of the eligible population against COVID-19 before moving to a new traffic light system is being described as a "pragmatic strategy".

The Government announced last week once every district health board in the country has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible population, Aotearoa will move away from the alert level system to a 'traffic light' strategy. The decision to move parts of New Zealand out of lockdown has concerned some health providers, who say a lower uptake of the vaccine among Māori means they will bear the brunt of COVID-19 getting out of control.

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson says the 90 percent target is a way for all of Aotearoa to work together  is "the best way" to go forward.

"Is it perfect? No, but it's a pragmatic way to go and we think we'll be able to really get Māori into this, particularly if we can give the resourcing and funding out there, which we tried to do from the start," he tells The Hui.

"But hey, you know, obviously there's been some Māori groups we've missed out. So I think with this injection of $120 million, we'll be able to get everyone."

The fund is designed to accelerate Māori vaccination rates and will help in reaching those who aren't yet vaccinated including rangatahi, whānau without permanent housing, whānau in rural and remote locations, and whānau not well connected to health services. The 90 percent target is for a DHB's entire eligible population, not 90 percent of Māori, or other ethnicities, in the general population.

Jackson says waiting for Māori to hit 90 percent fully-vaccinated means "we might have been waiting until October next year" in terms of this strategy, so they had to get everyone to buy into it.

"We're representing everyone and we're representing Māori who want to get out of this particular predicament."

He says Māori vaccination rates are up 39 percent over the past five weeks, compared to Pākehā rates that are up 19 percent, meaning Māori are "on target".

"We've had dire projections right from the start. You know that, and I know that. We've had six Māori die, six Māori, too many, but not the hundreds and the thousands who were predicted early on.

"You know, Māori in Auckland want to get on with their life too, and we want to support and resource them. And when we're never going to stop doing that and the DHB 90 percent [target] is the right solution going forward."

Jackson adds he hopes some Māori won't be left behind, in terms of them having lower vaccination rates, but the Government had to find a position they could manage for everyone.

"We are not just the ministers for Māori, we are ministers for the wider population too. And so we have to balance our cultural obligations, which are huge."

Watch his full interview on The Hui above.

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

Coronavirus: 90 pct vaccine target 'the right solution' despite concerns Māori may be left behind - Willie Jackson