A Māori health leader says Covid-19 vaccine acceptance in Māori is surging and vaccination rates could reach as high as 97 percent.
Auckland's three district health boards (DHB) are closing in on a significant milestone when it comes to vaccinating Māori against Covid-19.
Auckland DHB is just 292 people short of that goal for first doses, and is expected within the next day or two to reach the goal of 90 percent of Māori having had at least one dose.
The DHB is closely followed by Counties Manukau and Waitematā DHBs.
National Hauora Coalition clinical director and National Māori Pandemic Group co-leader Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen said it was an important achievement.
"The issue for us is that a significant part of our population has been back in group 4 and really got started late.
"But the idea that we're going to get to 95 per cent, I think we can be pretty confident around that."
He told Morning Report it could go up as high as 97 per cent as vaccine acceptance among Māori surges.
"Cook Islands is beating us and in vaccinations. We beat them in rugby and in league, we've got to get up there and get this vaccination programme right up to that kind of protection."
He said next week the Waitangi Tribunal was holding a priority hearing into the government's vaccination drive and Covid-19 response.
He said for good protection of Māori communities, the younger population between ages five and 11 needed to be vaccinated.
"As soon as Medsafe has got the data that confirms that it's safe, we should get busy. We've got to avoid the idea of waiting until the schools go back next year. We need that protection at the earliest opportunity, and it should be this year."
He said childhood immunisation programme numbers of 95 per cent was good evidence that "vaccinations are acceptable to Māori".
"It was about organising our programme so that we could get a great result like that - accessibility, then make a good offer and we can get a great result."