New Zealand's northernmost rugby club is the first to earn over $1000 as part of the Northland-wide 'Take 2 for The Team' initiative.
The initiative sees sporting clubs and schools earn $10 for every vaccination they introduce to any one of the eight Māori health providers serving the region.
Aupōuri Rugby Club, north of Kaitaia, has not just passed the $1,000 milestone, it has smashed it. With 429 of its members, their whānau and friends vaccinated so far by local Māori health provider Whatawhiti Ora Pai, the club has earned a whopping $4290.
Aupōuri Peninsula is the long, skinny stretch right at the top of the North Island. Aupōuri Rugby Club spokeswoman Kimberley Blucher said it was no accident that it features prominently as a reasonably well-vaccinated area on the Ministry of Health's vaccination map.
"We've been working really hard as a club to get the vaccination message out to our community, and the map doesn't lie," Blucher said.
"It shows how the magic of sport and the comfortable familiarity of community rugby clubs can drive the vaccination message home in a trusted, believable way."
Maureen Allen, of Whatawhiti Ora Pai, said the key to succeeding with vaccination on the peninsula was that the jabs are being done by local people who are known by the community. The whole peninsula is going well, she said, particularly Te Kao, home of the Aupōuri Rugby Club, which she said was "pumping."
The club has not yet decided how it will use the cash it has raised through "Take 2 for The Team".
The initiative is led by Rugby for Life, a charity that uses the networks and influence of the Northland Rugby Union and the Northland rugby community to create health, education and employment opportunities for communities in all corners of the region.
It is run in partnership with the Northland Māori health provider network. It is designed to reach all Northlanders but its primary focus is Māori and Pasifika communities.
Rugby for Life spokesman Martin Cleave said club rugby was an ideal vehicle to reach these communities in Northland because they comprise 63 per cent of the region's club rugby players aged 12 and older.
The programme is spreading beyond rugby. There are now 58 sporting clubs signed up covering softball, walking, golf, hockey, football, bowls and tennis. Two high schools, Kerikeri and Dargaville, are also participating.
Since launching on September 23 the programme has delivered 5094 jabs to club members, whānau and friends.
"With just nine weeks to go our target of 30,000 jabs by Christmas is still possible but tight," said Rugby for Life spokesman Martin Cleave.
"It will need participating sports clubs and their communities to swing in behind the campaign in a highly organised and proactive way."
People can get vaccinated through the "Take 2 for The Team" programme in four easy steps:
■ go to the map at www.take2fortheteam.kiwi (scroll down to the bottom to find the map)
■ select a participating school or sporting club to support
■ get vaccinated at the nearest Māori health provider on the map
■ tell vaccinating staff that they are there as part of the 'Take 2 for The Team' initiative and that they want their $10 to go to whichever school or club they have selected