By Matai O'Connor of RNZ
A Māori-led mobile vaccine clinic that focuses on going to emergency and transitional housing is being used in Te Whanganui-a-Tara to help curb vaccine hesitation in the community.
In the first week of level 4, Kahungunu Whānau Services launched the mobile vaccine service, Waka Ora, and set up at the Strathmore Park Community Centre yesterday.
Vaccination rates for Māori are slowly creeping up - but those under 60 are still behind other ethnicities.
Shirley Tinu-Hamilton, 72, is one of the people who decided to get a Covid vaccine at the mobile clinic.
It was her first Covid-19 vaccine and first jab in many years.
"This is my second home, I come here regularly and know the people that work here. It's much better than booking an appointment," she said.
Irihapeti Te Aho came to the centre to get her second vaccine shot, after the medical centre she first went to had cancelled her appointment twice due to the changes in time between each dosage.
"When I was told there was the pop-up clinic coming here, I decided it would be a lot more accessible for me. I wanted to get my second shot to protect my whānau and the community I work with."
She said the process at the centre was a lot quicker than the medical centre.
Kahungunu Whānau Services chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga said accessibility to health services is an issue for Māori so creating the Waka Ora was an answer to that.
"In terms of Māori Health, accessibility has always been an issue, we are really aware that the current systems and set-up, do not work for our people and those that are most vulnerable.
"Ringing up to make a booking isn't in their psyche, so we actually have to be in the community.
"We are here to manaaki the community of Strathmore Park, and to be accessible to those of our whānau who wouldn't normally attend vaccinations or even engage in any type of health service. We are here to share the information that will allow them to make an informed decision on whether or not they will get vaccinated," Hamlin-Paenga said.
Vaccinator Asmita Elliot said going into the communities that need vaccines is an answer to getting more vulnerable communities innoculated.
"I really like that whānau are able to come into the clinics and ask questions face-to-face with a nurse and ask questions about vaccinations. They can come down and ask questions and we give them honest feedback on the vaccine for them to make an informed decision."
She said the day went well with lots of whānau from different ethnicities and backgrounds coming to get a vaccine shot.
Jennifer Mason, the coordinator at the Strathmore Park Community Centre, said this sort of partnership with Kahungunu Whānau Services has made people feel comfortable in getting their vaccines.
"It has been wonderful, people who regularly use the centre have come in to get their vaccine, even some who two months ago told me they would never get the vaccine, have shown up to get it."