Four mobile Covid-19 response teams set up by the Ranga Tupua iwi collective are now on the road in a 15-week mission to increase vaccination rates in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu and South Taranaki regions.
The units are part of a Government-funded rapid response rollout to reach areas where there is uncertainty about the vaccination or barriers to access.
Operations lead Elijah Pue, of Ngāti Rangi, said teams were working six days a week to reach as many people as possible before New Zealanders started travelling.
"Ninety per cent by March 7 is what we're aiming for. And that equates to on average 300-odd vaccinations every week.
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"The Government have set 90 per cent by Christmas. We can't do that. We were given this contract two or three weeks ago so it was impossible for us to get 90 per cent by Christmas, but we're setting some more realistic deadlines and targets that we can meet based on the workforce that we've got and based on the resources we have at hand.
"We know that [level] orange is coming to us on December 30, we know that Auckland opens tomorrow [December 15], and so our immediate concern is the wellbeing of our whānau. Currently, their only protection is vaccination."
Danny Broughton, of Ngaa Rauru, is co-leading the rapid response effort, and Chris Kumeroa is providing logistics and procurement support. Staffing the mobile units are iwi health providers Te Oranganui Trust in Whanganui, Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust in the Waimarino, and Te Kōtuku Hauora and Mōkai Pātea Services in Rangitīkei. Tūpoho Iwi and Community Social Services will deliver a welfare function across the rohe.
Pue said the second part of the mobile response focused on planning for when the virus arrived among whānau.
"When we are vaccinating our people, understanding what their ongoing needs are. Do you have a plan in place for when Covid comes, do you have enough kai in your cupboard, do you have somewhere to isolate should you become positive?
"And, if you sit on the other side of the fence, how can we support you too? We have an obligation regardless of vaccination status to support our uri so we'll be checking in with those who are unvaccinated as well to understand how we can support them."