COVID-19: Māori vaccine rollout hindered by 'lack of strong leadership' in district health boards - Peeni Henare

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare says the state of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in part is down to "a lack of strong leadership" in some district health boards and wider communities.

Henare has been travelling around New Zealand meeting with iwi health providers to discuss Māori vaccination rates - which are falling behind.

Less than 40 percent of eligible Māori are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the latest Ministry of Health data shows

Henare, who will make announcements later this week around further efforts to increase vaccine uptake, acknowledged the challenges Māori health providers were facing.

"Some of those challenges are around the funding distribution and the speed at which that's been put out into those community providers and those Māori health providers," he said.

"I've also noticed a lack of strong leadership amongst the community, including the DHBs, with respect to what's required for the vaccine rollout."

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said part of the problem was different abilities across some DHBs.

"Some of them have built on existing, outstanding relationships and partnerships, and got some very good results," Dr Bloomfield told reporters on Tuesday. "We can see, across some of the DHBs, very high… coverage of our kaumatua - which is excellent.

"What we're doing now is, of course, addressing where that performance is not as good as it should be - we're going in to support the DHBs and the local providers."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said getting jabs in arms across New Zealand was a priority. She did not agree Māori had been let down by the vaccine rollout.

Peeni Henare.
Peeni Henare. Photo credit: The AM Show

"Every point in the vaccination campaign, we've been trying to ensure that we have an equitable rollout and, of course, as you see those results coming through we can see where those areas need to be more highly targeted," Ardern said.

"It's not across the board and in some areas we've seen fantastic rates and fantastic programmes, even in some communities - so I wouldn't want to cast this generalisation across everywhere but, yes, there's some areas where we do need to be doing better."  

Henare assured the Treaty of Waitangi was at the forefront of decision making around the vaccine rollout.