National | Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19

'It's my choice, God's got me covered' - Veronica Allen

Māori vaccination rates are still struggling to get past 10%. Even though vaccine efforts are rolling out to resist the virus there is also resistance against getting vaccinated.

For those with religious views it raises questions over vaccinations. Māori religious groups in Aotearoa are aware that many of their members may object to immunisation due to religious beliefs.

“I'm exercising my choice and I personally believe that God's got me covered. It’s my faith and I have seen many miracles in my lifetime,” says Veronica Allen of Kaikohe,

“If you knew the God I knew, if you understood the power of that then you wouldn't question it.”

Piki Manuel, a Ratana faith leader who received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today, sees how these views might decide people to refuse the vaccine and feels that everyone has a choice as long as their decision is well-informed.

“The Māramatanga is about ture wairua and ture tāngata and both of them must be in sync to help you.”

Given Ratana founder Tahuptiki Wiremu Ratana's past as a healer, she believes that direction can be derived from the church's philosophies.

“Now, if the vaccination is going to help your tinana, then we would be encouraging it. There is nothing in the kupu o to tātou pāpā about not having an injection.”

Catholic Church NZ vicar of Māori Manuel Beazley says the church's stance is clear.

“Kei te akiaki te hāhi kātorika i te kōrero ki ngā mema o te hāhi kia haere ki te whai nei ki te whiwhi i te rongoa ārai mate. Horekau he raru, horekau he taupatupatu ki ngā whakaakoranga o te hāhi. - The Catholic faith is encouraging parishioners to go and be vaccinated. There’s no issue or disagreements on getting vaccinated and the teachings of the church.

“Me titiro ki aua whakaaro ki aua whakapono hei tā te karaitiana e mea ana, ka haere mai a Hēhu kia whai oranga ai tātou katoa. He aha te mea tika, ko te mate, ko te ora rānei - If we look at those thoughts and those Christian beliefs, we know that Jesus came to ensure wellbeing for everyone. What is right? To live or to die?”