A South Island Māori advocacy group is preparing to tackle Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy among Māori.
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, a Whānau Ora commissioning agency for the South Island, says that it is important to combat misinformation circulating about the Covid-19 vaccines.
The group will endeavour to engage more effectively with Māori communities to encourage stronger participation in the Covid-19 immunisation programme. A Horizon Research survey last year found Māori and Pacific Islanders were hesitant about vaccinating, expressing concerns about the vaccine's quality and safety.
"Māori have endured disparities in treatment and experience in the mainstream healthcare system for too long," says Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu chair Mark Solomon.
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"Unfortunately, this has led to mistrust, and in such an environment, misinformation and conspiracy theories about this vaccine pose a risk.
He says Māori have always been innovative and quick to adapt to new technologies – particularly when it comes to protecting our whānau.
"We want to make sure that whānau have access to reliable information that helps them understand the vaccine is a positive choice."
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu supervisor Helen Leahy says that the Whānau Ora commissioning role is crucial for engaging these communities and providing consistent and accurate messaging about the vaccines.
Leahy says Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is confident in communicating accurate and relevant information to Māori communities and will give them the confidence to make the right decision for their whānau.
"The Whānau Ora model is about mana motuhake. We know that if whānau are equipped with accurate information from trusted sources, they have the ability to make their own decisions.
"That is where we come in. Whānau Ora is a bridge between government and district health boards, and whānau."