Although they face additional risks from the coronavirus, New Zealand’s indigenous Maori population are about 30% less likely to have been vaccinated than the general population, according to data from the Department of Health.
Since April, Manurewa Marae, a Maori meeting house and community center in South Auckland, has worked to distribute more than 41,000 doses of the vaccine to some of the country’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are Maori.
What to know about Covid-19 booster injections
The FDA has cleared booster shots for a select group of people who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months previously. This group includes: vaccinated people who are 65 years of age or older or living in long-term care facilities; adults who are at high risk for severe Covid-19 due to an underlying medical problem; healthcare workers and others whose work puts them at risk. People with weakened immune systems may receive a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after the second injection.
The jabs are administered in the wharenui, or meeting house, against intricately carved walls of red, black, and ocher, decorated with photos of loved ones. “You also get that spiritual side of the marae,” said Hilda Peters, manager of the marae site. “You feel it when you walk in, with all of our ancestors hanging on the wall. It’s a great experience.
On Super Saturday, marae leaders hoped to vaccinate 500 people, with incentives like a month of free electricity, a “sizzling sausage” barbecue and boxes of packaged food to take home. After receiving their shots, people posed for photos under an arch of balloons and a sign that read “Shot!” A congratulatory New Zealand expression.
“It’s all about voices of trust and building trusting relationships,” said Takutai Moana Kemp, CEO of Manurewa Marae. “If you come to the marae, you will have people who are like you, who have the same kind of values and beliefs, who understand what our people and our community are like,” she added.