A new mobile vaccination clinic is being launched on the West Coast as part of a drive targeting young local Māori as well as those in rural communities.
Poutini Waiora, an organisation owned by Poutini Ngāi Tahu (Makaawhio, Ngāti Māhaki and Ngāti Waewae), is leading the push in partnership with the West Coast District Health Board.
The 4WD mobile clinic will be rolled out to rural communities from next week. It has been branded with Karawhuia, which means "to give it everything", Pokeka Poutini Ngāi Tahu Acting CEO Lisa Tumahai said.
That's exactly what needs to happen to get more rangatahi (young people) vaccinated, she said.
"We're using a 4WD as our mobile clinic so we can reach rural communities throughout the West Coast.
"It's about bringing the clinics to coasters and making them accessible by running clinics during the day and evening. Last time, a whānau of four turned up at 6.45pm for their vaccines, after they had finished milking."
Tumahai is encouraging rangatahi and other rural Māori to get their jabs as part of the vaccine drive.
"Rangatahi are young Ngāi Tahu leaders, and we need to increase the vaccination rate to protect the future of our tribe. Rangatahi and whānau living across Te Tai o Poutini can get vaccinated at our kaupapa Māori clinics from next week, which are also open to the wider community."
As of October 3, 48 per cent of Māori 12-19 year-olds on the West Coast had received one dose of the vaccine.
58 per cent of all Māori in the region have had one dose and 31 per cent have had two.
Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare visited Arahura Marae today to launch the new mobile clinic and to support a group of rangatahi getting vaccinated.
Kaupapa Māori clinics are also being held at Arahura Marae and Westport's Masonic Lodge over the next three weeks. The clinics are for all eligible people within the community.
Ngāi Tahu rangatahi Aleigha Hutana-Ngaamo is getting her second vaccination at Arahura Marae today.
The 17-year-old is strongly encouraging other young people to join her in protecting their loved ones.
"We are the rangatira of tomorrow, and it's up to us to share the wisdom of our tāua (grandparents) with our future pēpi and moko. It's vital we protect ourselves and our kaumātua from this virus by getting our jabs," she said.
The kaupapa Māori clinics will be held at Arahura Marae on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 October and the Westport Masonic Lodge clinic will be held on Sunday October 31.
Mobile clinic locations will be published on the Poutini Waiora website.
Book your vaccine by visiting www.bookmyvaccine.nz or contacting District Coordinators - Rachael Forsyth (03 755 7885) and Hamiria Hutana (03 755 6451).