Breakfast host Jenny-May Clarkson has reacted to Act Party leader David Seymour's decision to tweet out a Māori vaccine code.
Seymour yesterday tweeted out a vaccine code reserved for Māori and sent via confidential email encouraging his supporters not to book in for a vaccine and instead use the code themselves.
Seymour tweeted an image of the code, which he said was sent to him, and said: "If you're worried about vaccination waiting times, you no longer need to make an appointment. All you need to do is use this access code."
Whānau Ora introduced the code as part of no-booking system from Saturday at its vaccination centres.
Speaking to clinical immunologist Dr Maia Brewerton about Māori vaccine rates on Breakfast this morning, Clarkson asked why it was important for Māori to be prioritised.
"We work in a system where Māori have a life expectancy that is seven years less than non-Māori so you can understand that there might be some mistrust there if a system has served you that way.
Clarkson, the emotion showing on her face, asked Brewerton to repeat the statistic, saying: "I think we need to make that really clear".
The head of a Māori-led vaccination centre yesterday criticised Seymour for seeking to "sabotage" the campaign.
Whānau Waipareira CEO John Tamihere said Seymour was attempting to "sabotage attempts to make the rollout more equitable".
"To put it in perspective, our programme itself has vaccinated 62,000 people, of those 48,000 are Pākehā, and just 10,000 are Māori and Pasifika.
"The only privilege so far has been for white and Asian New Zealanders, looking at the numbers.
"The system has been designed by white, middle-class folk for people like Seymour."
Tamihere said the priority code had nothing to do with skin colour but rather institutional problems that saw Māori at a population level with higher rates of deprivation.
"When 30 per cent of our people are on the dole, earning under $28,000 a year, and another 30 per cent earning less than $50,000, working their guts out while supporting families - there are bigger things on their mind than getting vaccinated.
"When you put all the data together and look at accessibility and appointments and even how to get there, it is clear Māori have not been a priority which is why all of this has been put together now."
Tamihere said it was all the more critical now amid an outbreak that has disproportionately impacted Pasifika, at 73 per cent of the 821 cases, and Māori at 7 per cent.
"The only way we can get through this is for as many people as possible to be vaccinated."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Seymour's comments and actions were "hugely disappointing".
The goal was for as many people as possible to get vaccinated, and it was "not unusual" for local providers to send messages directly to clients, she said.
"So to try to undermine that for no reason, in fact all the wrong reasons, is hugely disappointing."