When Covid first arrived in Aotearoa, we went headfirst into the unknown. No blueprint to deal with such an event, no plan. There was no protection model in place. Instead, we together adopted an elimination strategy - and we smashed it.
So much so, that our model was the prototype being gazed at by eyes from all corners of the world.
Māori stood up response efforts to protect whakapapa and to do our bit to support this effort. First it was iwi checkpoints, checkpoints that came under significant public backlash.
We had welfare hubs established, dropping kai packs, and ensuring kaumatua were kept warm. We even had teams doing daily welfare checks by phone or in person while social-distancing.
This, all prior to testing kits even landing in the country.
When those testing swabs eventually arrived, we were out there, supporting our communities to test, with the only tool we had.
On the ground we learnt a lot about each other. Our ability to mobilise; to connect with whānau via social media and Zoom; to work together in a way my generation would otherwise not have known how.
It reignited the collective effort. Nationally, we created a movement quickly sharing and replicating models of action that were working. Models that were delivered by us, for us.
We eliminated Covid within two months of harsh restrictions and endured months of freedom. Although critical at times at how slow the Crown was to turn up, we returned to a sense of normality, feeling a sense of achievement and success.
A summer was spent with whānau, although somewhat secluded from those abroad.
Then along came the vaccination rollout with news new variants such as Delta were taking other nations by storm.
Health advisers were in the ears of those in the driving seat, advising them that their age-based plan would leave 70 per cent of Māori ineligible for the vaccination until September of 2021 - a whole six months since the first jab was administered in this country.
They called for the Government to take the age demographic of Māori into consideration. It went unacknowledged and along came Delta.
Here we are entering another lockdown, except despite warning, Māori were set back from the onset of the vaccination rollout - the tool that was added as a line of defence.
With such poor planning for the Māori vaccination rollout, our providers stood up and tried - and continue to try - to do their best with the resourcing and information they have.
They try their best to pick up pieces of the plans, just like pieces of the puzzle that were never cut to fit the plan.
Our advisers called for significant funding to be invested so that hauora Māori providers and Whānau Ora could do just that. They called for access to datasets to help guide their approach. The former has only just been agreed to with a scrambled millions in investment while the latter is still a fight in court.
The narrative from Government is that Māori are responsible for their hesitancy, they put the blame on kaumatua in isolated regions such as Murupara. They've implemented mandates to compensate, but not once have they admitted their plan was at fault.
Now, Māori are stereotyped once again, as the people responsible for holding the country to ransom, keeping people in lockdown.
The sense of "he waka eke noa" started to quickly fade.
Then the elimination strategy ended when Māori were 26 per cent of cases. Today, we represent more than 50 per cent of daily cases with Covid. Here we are once again, pivoting to adopt all we can to protect our communities.
And while I remain concerned about where this is all heading, I am increasingly concerned with the switch from fighting for equity to fighting to prevent toxicity.
Perhaps if the Government honoured a Tiriti-approach and acknowledged the advice from Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, we wouldn't be in the position where Māori are projected to make up more than half of the total Covid cases.
Perhaps if the Government wasn't the only voice in the response against Delta, we could have ensured income support for those forced out of employment by mandates. We could have supported those communities unable to redeploy and keep people earning.
Perhaps if the Government had more of a lens on a health response versus a political one, we wouldn't see people being left behind.
No matter how intentional those in the driver seat, the reality is an objective set of eyes with a cross-party focus would have steered away from the rocks of despair and disharmony we see their waka stranded on now.
Numerous times we offered the opportunity to work together, to stand up a cross-party pandemic committee as existed in the first response, but this is a government that has an overwhelming mandate, as we are so often reminded.
So here we are, one party, one voice and a very strong iron fist prepared to ignore all advisers and anarchy.
And while the rest of Aotearoa shake their heads in dismay, let's be reminded many of you created this red tsunami, you wanted a rock star prime minister, your votes created this one-party government, in an electoral system such as MMP, never designed to provide just that.
• Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is co-leader of Te Pāti Māori.