Members of the Pacific community are being urged to get tested for Covid as a large majority of Auckland's current outbreak have been identified as Pasifika.
The news comes as contact tracers work to identify hundreds of people who attended a church service in Māngere, South Auckland, between 9am and 3pm on Sunday, August 15.
Pacific health leader Dr Collin Tukuitonga said more than 500 people were at a combined service at the Assembly of God Church of Samoa, which has been named as a location of interest after a person at the service tested positive for the virus.
"It's probably safe to say that the AOG cluster is giving us the most numbers," he told the Herald.
"The AOG cluster is the biggest and will continue to grow.
"The immediate thing is that people need to get tested. That, to me, is the most important thing so they know if they're a risk to their family or not."
There has been some confusion over exactly which church was involved, given there are a number of churches with a similar name in the area.
The Ministry of Health has identified the church as the one at 33 Andrew Baxter Drive - about a nine-minute drive to the better-known Samoan Assemblies of God church on Robertson Rd, Favona, where a pop-up Covid testing site has been put up to help the local community.
It is understood a number of churches were represented at the service affected and included people from outside of Auckland - including three people who had since tested positive for Covid in Wellington.
The church pastor declined to comment when contacted.
Tukuitonga, an Auckland University Pacific Health academic, said figures from the past few days showed up to 50 per cent of the positive cases in Auckland were among the Pacific community.
Need to alert vulnerable communities overpowers racist rhetoric
Among the Pasifika cases, the majority are said to be Samoan.
Tukuitonga said health authorities had been debating whether or not to specifically name the cases as being from the Pacific or Samoan communities, but also acknowledged the importance of letting those communities know they were affected.
"It's a double-edged sword. It encourages them to go and get tested.
"But the downside is you're feeding the racist [rhetoric] out there too."
Local Pacific groups and media outlets, including Auckland-based radio station Radio Samoa, have been pushing the message to get tested if required to do so and to get vaccinated.
The Prepare Pacific website has also been established by district health boards around Auckland, as well as Northland DHB, to help provide information to Pacific communities in their own languages - from Niue, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati.
Tukuitonga is one of two respected Pasifika health leaders calling on the Government to create a community-led mobilisation approach to vaccinations, as Pacific people have one of the lowest vaccination rates in New Zealand.
The other health leader is Dr Api Talemaitonga, who is also the Pacific Covid-19 adviser.
In a joint statement, they said the current vaccination roll-out strategies were "highly top-down" in approach and lacked authentic Pacific community dialogue or initiative.
"There have been some positive gains in information dissemination. However, they have failed to mobilise Pacific communities to be vaccinated," they said.
"To increase Pacific vaccination numbers requires a by community for community approach. This is a bottom-up approach."