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University of Waikato supports increased COVID vaccination among Māori and Pacific communities

Hamilton, New Zealand

The University of Waikato, in support of increased Covid-19 vaccination rates among Māori and Pacific communities, will host a vaccination clinic and drive on September 16 to mark Kīngitanga day.

The clinic will be available to all students, staff and the community but is focused on raising vaccination rates amongst Māori and Pacific students as a priority. 

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori, Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, said the clinics were offered as part of the University’s Kīngitanga Day programme.

"The care of the people is paramount, we will get through this.”

The initiative is designed to support increasing Covid-19 vaccination rates among Māori and Pacific communities and builds on the work that Ngā Miro has been doing with the University in a mobile vaccination drive across the University’s Halls of Residence. 

Vaccination rates among the Māori and Pacific communities are concerning when compared to the New Zealand national average. Some studies also suggest that Pacific people are three times more likely to need hospitalisation when infected with the virus than non-Pacific people and Māori were 2.5 times more likely to need hospitalisation.  

University Assistant Vice Chancellor Pacific, Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi, said the clinics are an opportunity to protect communities and keep families safe.

Dr Hemi says Pacific peoples, including Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) had experienced infectious diseases over centuries that had devastating impacts on populations.

“Our ancestors didn’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated. But we do. When we get vaccinated, we are protecting our aiga, our tamariki and older people, and our communities and keeping that from happening again.”

In addition, holding the clinics on Kīngitanga Day with Māori and Pacific health providers already working with communities is a privilege and a chance to awhi the wider whānau and community, Dr Hemi.

This initiative is a collaboration between kaupapa Māori health provider Ngā Miro Health Centre, K'aute Pasifika, the Waikato District Health Board and the University and is a first to be held on a university campus in New Zealand.

While the clinic is to support Māori and Pacific communities to get vaccinated, it also provides an opportunity for staff, students and the wider community to get their vaccinations against Covid-19.

The vaccination clinic will be open from 10am-3pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts and a drive through clinic will also be available at Gate 2B, Knighton Road.

The vaccination clinics are a drop-in service, so no set appointment is necessary, but people attending need to use reasonable precautions including wearing a mask and remaining appropriately distanced, said the University.