National | Judith Collins

National calls out government's 'poor' Māori vaccination strategy

A substandard vaccination strategy for Māori is one of the matters justifying a Royal Commission into the Government’s Covid-19 response, National Party leader Judith Collins has claimed in a statement Sunday.

"The time has now come for a Royal Commission into the Government’s clear lack of preparation for Delta and the move to a suppression strategy," Collins said.

The opposition leader said news reports during the past week indicate the Government only began planning for a Delta outbreak in July, even though Delta first entered MIQ in early April and was raging around the world. When Delta hit, less than 20 per cent of our population was fully vaccinated, she said.

“It is now clear the Government went ‘all in’ on the elimination strategy and assumed it would work to beat Delta. While other countries were vaccinating as quickly as possible and investing in contact tracing, rolling out saliva testing and utilising rapid antigen testing, New Zealand followed the same playbook that worked in 2020."

“New Zealand’s response did not adapt or evolve in 2021," Collins said. "There has been no backup plan, and New Zealand – particularly Auckland – is now facing the consequences."

The National Party leader claims the Government's slow vaccination response, including in respect of Māori, has been a disaster.

“The biggest mistake has been the failure to vaccinate more quickly, allied to a poor rollout strategy that has seen Māori vaccination rates fall well behind," she said.

“The slowness to procure vaccines and then deliver them to New Zealanders has been a public policy disaster. There must be accountability.”