The New Zealand Māori Council wants Māori children aged 5 to 11 years to be vaccinated.
Co-chair George Ngatai says protecting against the long-term effects of Covid-19 on Māori children must be an essential part of a strong Māori response to the virus.
“The government must engage in discussion over the vaccination of our tamariki and take steps to ensure we have the required number of vaccinations on hand to enable an effective roll out in early 2022,” Ngatai says.
The council has written to associate Māori health minister Peeni Henare, imploring the government to protect Māori children.
“Our tamariki are vulnerable to long-lasting negative health effects of long Covid, and must be protected. Internationally, we know that schools are where significant spread of Covid-19 occurs. If the government fails to act on these issues, tamariki Māori will be the casualties and bear the long-term adverse effects of Covid-19."
The council says the government must also delay its new traffic light system until Māori vaccination rates are at least equal to those of the general population.
“To ensure the greatest possible protection for Māori and other minority communities, an intensive and targeted information and vaccination programme must be implemented and run until Māori vaccination rates are at least at 90%.
"Anything less is positioning the Māori population to be the shock absorber of the brunt of the Covid-19 Delta variant fallout,” Ngatai says.