Coronavirus: Leaders of every major political party join forces to promote vaccination

The leaders of all our major political parties are putting aside their differences - well, most of them anyway - to encourage Kiwis who haven't been vaccinated yet to get a move on. 

So far 60.5 percent of eligible New Zealanders - those aged 12-plus - have had two doses, and 83.1 percent their first. Epidemiologists say well above 90 percent will need to be protected against COVID-19 if we want to return to any kind of normality.

Two weeks ago epidemiologist Rod Jackson told The AM Show he wanted politicians to push the vaccination message as a unified team

"We're now into the last quarter of the game," he said. "We can win this, and you win it by vaccination. Politicians have to stop sniping at each other. This is the time when politicians need to put aside [their differences]. There's no bloody election for a couple of years."

Appearing on The AM Show on Friday were Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, National Party leader Judith Collins, ACT leader David-Seymour, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson and Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

'We're appealing here to people's sense of community - don't do it just for yourself, do it for others," Ardern said, urging vaccinated Kiwis to reach out to friends and family who weren't. She got her second dose in July, saying it was now her job to distract people while they got theirs - such as last week when she played "hype" woman for an apprehensive woman in Hastings.

"It is for yourself, and it's also for your family and it's for everyone that you work with," added Collins. "Please just do this. I know those who haven't yet done this, they're worried about various things - but talk to very sensible medical practitioners and people who understand this. Listen to people like Dr Shane Reti. Listen to people like that who you can trust, who are going to tell you the truth. 

Dr Reti, National Party deputy leader, has been "back on the tools", helping out with the vaccination programme in Northland. 

"Please understand that billions of people in the world - about 2 billion people - have already had this vaccine. It is not going to hurt you," said Collins.

Next up was David Seymour.

"I'd do it for the team of 6 million - I say 6 million because the sooner we reopen, the sooner the million Kiwis trapped overseas have the option of actually coming home, and New Zealanders can travel too."

Ardern, Collins, Seymour, Davidson and Ngarewa-Packer.
Ardern, Collins, Seymour, Davidson and Ngarewa-Packer. Photo credit: The AM Show

He couldn't resist taking a little jab at the Government's COVID response though.

"I want to say in particular to people on the right of politics, we need our Government to succeed. I think it's fair to say on the vaccine rollout they need a little bit of help and we should all pitch in. Because if we don't, we're going to see crowded ICUs, more deaths and longer delays in reconnecting with the rest of the world.

"This is not about left or right. Political leaders around the world, whether it's Scott Morrison or Boris Johnson on the right, or Justin Trudeau or Emmanuel Macron on the left, have all advocated the same strategy. The reason is that the scientific evidence is crystal-clear - that vaccination protects against the worst effects of COVID."

He urged people wanting to do their own research to read the "hard evidence in the respected medical journals".

Davidson and Ngarewa-Packer had specific messages for Māori, whose vaccination rate lags behind the rest of the country. Just 40 percent of eligible Māori have had two doses, and 63 percent their first. 

The Green Party co-leader - in a live cross from her own yard, next to some healing kawakawa plants - urged them to listen to Māori experts, "who have stood up against the inequalities that so many people are feeling and therefore not understanding whether they can trust authorities or politicians".

"Our tupuna (ancestors) had the wisdoms and the insights to understand how important it was to protect each other collectively," said Davidson. "Our Māori health experts, who have fought for us forever, are very, very clear - do this to protect our whakapapa."

Ngarewa-Packer said like Davidson, she understood "the apprehension and the lack of trust" from many tangata whenua - but said they are now "gravely behind". 

"But we do ask that you trust in us. Those that know us and those that know the front lines we have been on, we would never go on a front line that we didn't say we needed to be in it to actually look after our whanau and protect ourselves…

"Especially now that the elimination phase is ending, we need to really dig in, whanau. Look at our history, look at what we're contending with now. Trust in those that are always with you, shoulder-to-shoulder, in every journey that we have as Māori in our inequities… I get it, but we really are in this now and we need to dig deep." 

A list of vaccination events and locations across Auckland can be found here