This afternoon we heard from the prime minister that:
As the prime minister said, there is clear evidence Level 4 restrictions work, and while it’s too soon to predict a trend, we are all hopeful the current outbreak continues to follow the same pattern we have seen since the beginning with our ‘go hard and go early’ approach. We know this approach works but only if every single person does their bit!
This is a worrying time and it’s normal to feel a range of emotions including fear, anger, and sadness. The scaremongering and rhetoric we’ve been seeing around the rohe when we ought to be supporting each other is not helpful. Increasing anxieties amongst our whānau cause mental stress and may result in those who are vulnerable to make poor decisions.
I want to acknowledge Te Hau Ora Ō Ngāpuhi (THOON) for the excellent vaccination and testing service they are providing from Kaikohe. THOON is also managing the Kaikohe-based Covid-19 Healthline call centre, and making/receiving thousands of calls a week.
In Tāmaki Makaurau, Ngāpuhi have worked collaboratively with Ngāti Whātua around increasing the vaccination rate for our people. We wish to acknowledge this important demonstration of manaaki from Ngāti Whātua and other iwi who have supported Ngāpuhi living outside their traditional rohe.
High alert level lockdown restrictions continue to be an effective holding measure against Covid-19 until the population is vaccinated, but it’s the vaccine that provides the best defence against the virus. The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely we are to have hospitalisations and deaths. The modelling suggests that the higher the vaccination rates in communities, the safer those communities will be.
If a vaccine was available during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic we would not have had the casualties we did. In the two months between October and December that year, 9,000 New Zealanders including 2500 Māori died – this was eight times the rate of non-Māori. We have an opportunity with the Covid-19 pandemic to get vaccinated. This was an opportunity our ancestors in 1918 did not have! Vaccination is a personal choice and by all means, become informed, but please seek out truthful information and do not get misled by conspiracy theories and disinformation.
It’s important to get your facts from reputable and trusted Māori experts such as researcher Dr Rawiri Tāonui or Dr Rawiri Jansen. There are also regular updates, daily press conferences and datasheets on the Ministry of Health websites. Behind the scenes are a lot of people working very hard to make sure we have all the information we need to come through this, with as few casualties as possible.
At alert levels 3 and 4, everyone is to stay home and in their bubble unless they’re an essential worker. As part of a roopu of iwi Chairs and senior police personnel we’re working to get the outbreak rules around regional border management amended, so that in future police can harden the borders PRIOR to any alert level lockdown announcement and before people have a chance to exodus for their holiday home. We believe stronger messaging right now on staying home and staying safe is the most appropriate education tool. Aotearoa has demonstrated that we are responsible and intelligent as a nation.
While we all hope there won’t be any future outbreaks, it would be naïve not to plan for the likelihood especially given many other countries are now going through their fourth and fifth waves of Covid. Police intend to partner with Iwi to allow kaitiaki to manage checkpoints in regions under an agreed plan. This is consistent with the principles of participation, protection and partnership.
In any crisis, there are the facts – and then the blame. Principles that are fundamental to tīkanga Māori such as manaakitanga, aroha and mutual respect become even more important. Attempting to cast blame and step on each other’s mana are not behaviours we as Māori should accept. As Chair of the Rūnanga, I welcome questions; every leader should be accountable for his or her decisions and actions but we cannot tolerate time-wasting and personal agendas. There is too much work to be done so let us get on with the job and prioritise keeping ourselves, our whānau and our people safe. After we successfully eliminate the delta variant from our community we can reflect on what we did right and what we did wrong and note the learnings.
Our taitamariki are particularly vulnerable at this time. Since the first lockdown in 2020 we have seen an alarming increase in mental health issues in this age group, so please be mindful they need our support and reassurance now more than ever.
Many of our taitamariki are essential workers whose exposure to the public in their workplaces puts them and their whānau at risk, but they are on our front line doing their mahi for all of us! One of the best things you can do for them when you’re out and going into an essential business is to wear your mask and treat them kindly. The number of reports of abuse experienced by supermarket and service station workers across the country is disappointing.
With most age groups at least single dose vaccinated and the second dose booked in, it is our young people under 30 who are last on the list. While this made sense with earlier variants, delta has flipped things around. This new variant targets young people in greater numbers so we must encourage them to vaccinate as soon as possible.
SUPPORTING OUR PASIFIKA WHĀNAU
Te pure nei mātou mo koutou. Tu mātou ki a koutou.
We pray for you. We stand with you.
Racism in Aotearoa is nothing new to Māori and other ethnicities. The derogatory and racist slurs online about our Pasifika whānau, and a bomb threat following news of a “super-spreader” event held before lockdown at a church service in South Auckland, takes this to a new low. Where was the condemnation against the Bluff wedding reception cluster, or the Matamata pub cluster in 2020? There wasn’t any and nor should there have been, so why would anyone subject our Pasifika whānau to this? I would ask all New Zealanders who witness this kind of behaviour to call it out immediately and be part of the solution.
Far North Police Area Commander Rikki Whiu is concerned at the trend of people who are still going fishing, and the public who are out and about, for example, parking up along Waitangi and Paihia boulevard and behaving as if it’s a normal day. It’s not a normal day! Stay home.
Remember the following:
Chair – Te Rūnanga-A-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi
Subscribe to our E-Mara Pānui to receive news and updates from around the Ngāpuhi community.
Subscribe to the E-Mara Pānui to receive news and updates from around the Ngāpuhi community.