An academic says poor Māori Covid-19 vaccination rates must be turned around to avoid the fate of Māori in the 1913 smallpox epidemic and the 1918 Spanish flu.
Rāwiri Taonui, who focuses on Covid in Māori communities, said the 1913 smallpox epidemic mainly affected Māori communities.
He said the Government's response at that time was to vaccinate the Pākehā community and most Māori didn't have access to a vaccination.
Just five years later, another pandemic devastated the Māori population.
"1918, the Spanish flu: Māori deaths were nine times higher than those for Pākehā," Taonui said.
"There is a risk here that we will suffer something similar, certainly in terms of a greater proportion of Māori cases than Pākehā cases, more hospitalisations and more deaths.
"The Māori population is the least vaccinated, we have the lowest rate. There's some real risk out there and we could repeat 1918 if not in scale certainly by proportion."
Taonui says it is crucial to drive up Māori vaccination rates that are 10 per cent lower than Pākehā.
Only 19.5 per cent of Māori are fully vaccinated and 37.9 per cent have received their first of two doses – well behind Pasifika at 26.4 per cent fully vaccinated (48.5 per cent with first dose), Asian at 32.2 per cent (66.2 per cent) and the rest of the population at 31.2 per cent (58.2 per cent).
In the Whanganui DHB region, about 2800 Māori have been fully vaccinated, just over 20 per cent of the eligible Māori population.
A record number of 1305 doses were delivered on September 2 in the Whanganui DHB region, taking the region's total to 51,567.
The figures include a massive clinic in Marton at Te Poho o Tuariki, the former Turakina Girls College, which gave more than 300 vaccinations, and good numbers at Ohakune, Otaihape and the Te Rito facility in Whanganui city centre.