The "secret" behind increasing Māori vaccination rates is going out to their communities, says a primary health organisation director.
Figures show Māori vaccination rates for Covid-19 in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's region are tracking behind the national number.
Nationally, more than 50 per cent of eligible Māori had received their first dose and 25 per cent were now fully vaccinated, Whānau Ora and Associate Health (Māori Health) Minister Peeni Henare said in a media statement on Sunday.
But regional numbers from the DHB showed 42 per cent of Māori had received their first dose, and 20 per cent of Māori had received both doses as of September 20.
Ngā Mataapuna Oranga managing director Janice Kuka said the best way to increase the vaccination rates for Māori was to "go in to their communities and vaccinate them by their bubble or by household".
"That's always been the secret – you've got to really engage with your Māori community. When they see their elders or whānau lining up to be vaccinated, I think you get less resistance or they are more open and engage in a dialogue.
"You go out to the communities that you suspect would have access issues or are hesitant about having [the vaccine].
"Because we've been around for a long time looking after Māori communities, we know some of the strategies that work," she said.
"And that is really going into the communities, going to their leaders, targeting advocates in the communities, [and] being consistent so they know every Tuesday [they] have a mobile service that comes to certain places so they can turn up."
Kuka said there had been an increase in Māori vaccination rates since the recent lockdown, but it was "easing off again".
There was "a little surge" in vaccinations after the truck driver who tested positive for Covid-19 visited Tauranga, but "not to the degree where we first had the Delta outbreak".
Kuka said District Health Boards should have "learned from their experiences much earlier" and gone out to Māori communities and utilised more of the Māori health providers "quicker than they did".
Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Charitable Trust chief executive Dr Chris Tooley said the problem with the vaccination rollout was that it had been based on the GP model which required people to come in to fixed sites.
"We've always been arguing that we always need a mobile integrated platform to deliver from," he said.
"We only got the green light for our mobile delivery service about three weeks ago."
Tooley said the trust had been to places like Matatā and Ōpōtiki where "over 80 per cent of the people coming through are Māori or iwi".
The trust offered "a whole bunch of other services" including social housing and counselling services, and ACC and hardship support as well as the vaccine.
"That kind of concept appeals not to just Māori but to rural populations, especially in isolated townships around the Eastern Bay.
"That's why those have been successful and that's why you're seeing pretty poor numbers of Māori coming in to fixed sites which basically was the only predominant form of delivery for the first half of this year."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson said their rollout team were working closely with local iwi and Māori hauora (health) providers to best reach out to communities.
"Two examples of collaborative community outreach are the 'whole-of-population' vaccination approach rolled out in Te Kaha from 11 May, and the 'fly-in, drive-through' Covid-19 vaccination clinic on Mōtītī on 6 September," he said.
"The Bay of Plenty DHB's Covid-19 vaccine rollout includes a range of vaccine delivery models including fixed sites, mobile outreach programmes, and pop-up and marae-based clinics.
"We're firmly focused on an equitable vaccine rollout, and collaboration with our partner providers is critical to achieve this."
Te Manu Toroa chief executive Pat Cook said the biggest challenge they faced as a health provider in the Māori community was "overcoming the amount of misinformation" about the vaccine.
The health provider would contact patients to provide accurate information about the vaccine and promote testimonials from their kaumatua and others in the community, Cook said.
"The country as a whole seems to be starting to get the message now. Nobody wants another lockdown."
Cook said Te Manu Toroa had been "very proactive" in the vaccine rollout, with its Tauranga Moana City Clinic the first GP practice in Tauranga to administer the jabs.
More than 40 per cent of their registered patient population have had at least their first dose, she said.
"We're planning to get that up in the coming weeks with a Saturday drive-through clinic, and we will also begin vaccinating at our Te Akau clinic in Pāpāmoa soon."
Their mobile clinic had been operating since June and had been "very successful", Cook said.
This involved vaccinating people in "familiar surroundings" and making it "as easy as possible" for people to get vaccinated.
Te Manu Toroa had provided about 3000 jabs as of September 21.
On a national level, a funding boost of $38 million to ensure Māori health providers supported Māori communities with their Covid-19 response was announced by Henare and Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson in a media statement on Tuesday.
Henare said there was "clear evidence" that Māori health providers were making inroads in to "hard-to-reach communities" and those who may be vaccine-hesitant."
"It's important they can continue this work with the funding and resources they need."