When Covid reached the seaside village of Kāwhia in October locals were understandably nervous about a potential outbreak spreading uncontrolled amongst whānau and friends.
At the time Ōtorohanga District, and Kāwhia specifically, had the lowest vaccination rate in the country at just over 30 per cent.
With summer approaching it will be time for whānau and friends to get together, plus Kāwhia will welcome hundreds of holiday makers who want to share this unique slice of Kiwi heaven.
Keeping Kāwhia safe is paramount, so Ngā Marae o Kāwhia Moana Community Covid Vaccination Campaign has been launched - an urgent response to Delta and a plea aimed at lifting local and regional vaccination rates and countering the anti-vaccination rhetoric.
Ngā Marae o Kāwhia Moana is the collective of the eight marae of Kāwhia Moana and they have joined forces to deliver a powerful message to their community.
To drive home the message of vaccination as the primary defence against the virus, local identities brother and sister Māea Marshall and John Forbes are sharing their compelling childhood story of growing up and living with health issues and disabilities since contracting polio as unvaccinated children.
The siblings, and their whānau, are fronting a powerful poster campaign to drive home the message about getting the double jab to protect those you love the most.
Māea, 67, and her older brother John, 70, are polio casualties, an illness they contracted as 3 and 4-year-olds because they weren't vaccinated.
Growing up as unvaccinated disabled siblings is a unique lens on the stance many young Kāwhia Māori have chosen to take as their democratic right not to be vaccinated for Covid.
Many argue it is their right to choose. However, this is the story about two siblings who weren't given the choice.
And they don't want Kāwhia to repeat the mistakes of the past.
It is said bad things come in threes. Māea and John want to prove that wrong.
Polio devastated the Kāwhia community in the 1950s and Spanish flu a generation before that.
Māea and John's ancestors who died from both illnesses are buried in unmarked graves in the sandhills of Kāwhia.
They, and their family, are taking the courageous step to share their story and take a stand publicly to break the cycle.
Without full vaccination they believe many local people could die or be left debilitated from Covid.
They hope their story will resonate powerfully with locals and encourage the vaccine hesitant to protect themselves.
And to set the example, both are fully vaccinated against Covid.
Māea lost the use of her right hand but her mum raised her to live with the challenge.
She grew up on the family farm with her two brothers riding her favourite horse Peaches single-handed.
Later in life she married Allan Marshall and together raised their family of two boys.
Today Māea drives herself to and from Kāwhia with the use of one hand.
As an adult, John's disability in his legs landed him in a moped, but like his sister he has lived with the challenge all his life, working the family farm into adulthood and raising a family.
Māea and John's story is a poignant reminder of how the influenza and polio pandemics impacted the people of Kāwhia.
Unlike their ancestors, this brother and sister duo lived to tell their story about the consequences of not being vaccinated and how it affected their lives.
To find out about vaccinations in Kāwhia phone the Kāwhia Health Centre - 07 8710 884 – or text reception - 022 386 0586.