National | Hauora

Iwi-led facilities to provide hospital Covid care

For the East Coast, the government's Covid-19 response plan has failed miserably. That's according to Caralee Pewhairangi-Lawton from Te Hauora o Ngāti Porou.

"We are the Tairāwhiti. When those borders open, they all want to come and have a little bit of our paradise."

Te Hauora o Ngāti Porou is in discussions about the repurposing of the hospital at Te Puia.

"We are very fortunate to own our own hospital. It can hold 22 patients in the acute wing and, also, we have an aged care facility."

"So we are currently, as of today, in discussions with our district health board about how we can in fact turn our hospital into a facility that can look after those whose health deteriorates and the community."

Te Tairāwhiti has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. With only 58% of Māori having received their second dose, the fear is once the country opens up under the alert level system, Māori in Te Tairāwhiti and around the motu will be left high and dry.


Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there is no suggestion of slowing down the drive to the magical 90% vaccination target for the country.

"It's not a target, and it's a milestone because we intend to keep going."

So a community-led Covid response is even more crucial to the survival of Māori.

In Te Taitokerau, one of the other regions whose 58% rate is low, Rueben Taipari of Te Taitokerau Border Control says they have always maintained that local solutions for this global pandemic are best.

"A community Covid response plan would look to me to be hapū driven. The foundation of it would be from hapū."

Taipari says data is a crucial weapon in the fight, and hapū and iwi need that information to build a proper plan to fight Covid and help whānau are have contracted the virus.

"We were able to respond 24/7 to all of their needs, we created systems to provide them with services and support."