Saturday, June 15, 2024

$120m fund to boost Māori vaccinations

A $120 million fund to accelerate Māori vaccination rates and support communities to prepare for the implementation of the new COVID-19 Protection Framework has been established.

The new Māori Communities COVID-19 Fund will directly fund Māori, Iwi, community organisations and providers to deliver local vaccination initiatives for whānau, and support Māori and communities to prepare for the new protection framework.

The fund will assist in reaching Māori not yet vaccinated including rangatahi, whānau without permanent housing, whānau in rural and remote locations, and whānau not well connected to health services. Local Iwi, Māori organisations and providers are best placed to reach and support these groups.

Half will go towards accelerating Māori vaccination rates, while the remaining $60 million will support Māori and iwi-led initiatives to protect their communities against COVID-19.

Phase One: ($60m) will provide direct financial support to iwi and Māori community providers to accelerate vaccination uptake over the next two months It will start next week and complement our existing vaccination roll-out efforts. It will focus on areas where Māori vaccination rates are low – currently Counties Manukau, Lakes District, Taranaki and Tairawhiti, Northland and Bay of Plenty DHB areas. It will align with priority groups identified by the Ministry of Health, including rangatahi, tangata whaikaha, and whānau in remote communities.

Phase Two: ($60m) will support iwi and Māori-led and community-designed preparedness initiatives, to build and adapt community social infrastructure for the new framework, drawing on existing iwi pandemic response plan and community resilience initiatives. Examples of activities that might be funded include support for testing and other public health measures under the new framework; community outreach and mobilisation of resources to support rapid responses to any outbreak; support for diagnosis and home-isolation.

“While more Māori have been vaccinated in recent weeks, Māori are still lagging behind most New Zealanders, particularly in the younger age groups,” Associate Minister for Health (Maori Health), Peeni Henare said today.

“We need to pull out all the stops to ensure whānau are protected when the new protection framework is put in place. We know the recent lift in vaccination rates is the direct result of funding Māori providers and of Māori leadership efforts at a regional and national level. We need this to continue.

“From hāngi and vouchers, walk-in clinics and vax buses, partnerships with iwi, local communities and businesses, communities going door-to-door, vaccinations on sports fields and at kura and many more initiatives – we’ve seen what works and this fund will support more of it,” Mr Henare said.

Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, Kelvin Davis said the Government had heard calls from across Māori society that extra support was needed. This funding provides us an opportunity to partner with and support iwi and Māori as we continue through our COVID-19 recovery, he said.

“Te Arawhiti has been working with iwi throughout our COVID-19 response and this direct funding continues to build the Māori-Crown partnership,” Mr Davis said. 

Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson said Māori providers, iwi groups and key Māori organisations had deep connections and networks in their communities and can reach whānau that other government response efforts cannot reach.

“I’m proud of Te Puni Kōkiri’s work with Māori providers, for a by Māori for Māori solution and today’s announcement continues the commitment of helping whānau Māori who have been affected by Covid-19,” Mr Jackson said.

“Ministers have met regularly with Māori leaders. We are unanimous in our view that we need to inject further resources into local Māori-focused initiatives so we can support providers and communities to keep the vaccination momentum going – and we need to do that rapidly.

“It’s important we also support these communities to lead and implement measures to protect and prepare whānau as we move into the next phase of our response to COVID-19. We cannot afford not to invest in this,” he said.

Phase Two funding will be available in early November, so that a first tranche of proposals can be underway before the end of the year.

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