University gets behind ‘GotYaDot’ vaccination campaign

Concerned about the number of young Māori not yet protected against Covid-19 and having recently advised that entry onto campus would be dependent on being fully vaccinated, Waipapa Taumata Rau the University of Auckland is swinging in behind this weekend’s ‘ira dot’ campaign.

The campaign, run by Tāmaki Tū Kotahi and supported by the University’s Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, is aiming to increase vaccinated Māori with pop-up centres across Tāmaki Makaurau.

Papaarangi Reid is professor of Māori health in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (FMHS) and co lead on Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the Māori pandemic planning group.

She says Māori and Pacific groups should have been prioritised early in the rollout of the vaccination, due in part to higher rates of mortality and morbidity.

“From the start we made it clear we needed an equity and Treaty-based rollout, which just didn’t happen.

“So, because of that – as well as other issues, including people living in rural areas or doing night work, or just not having transportation to get to centres – there was a delay in Māori and Pacific people getting vaccinated. There was also a gap in ensuring people had the knowledge to make an informed choice and that void led to some misinformation becoming embedded in our communities.

“We are now doing a lot of work to make sure our families, our communities, have got really good information and are able to push back on the misinformation.”

She says Aotearoa started off with a one-size fits all approach – which wasn’t really matched to the needs of Māori and Pacific communities, so right now we’re in “catch up mode”.

Professor Reid notes the vast majority of Māori health professionals, and iwi chairs, are in favour of vaccination.

“Part of Tino rangatiratanga is collective responsibility. And within that frame, the Māori ethics of the current situation is to think of whānau, to think of iwi, to think of hapū. And to think collectively about the health and safety of the community.”

Associate Professor Collin Fonotau Tukuitonga, Associate Dean (Pacific) from FMHS, agrees that a key factor in the low numbers of vaccinated Māori and Pacific people was that despite trying to encourage creative solutions to involve communities, the vaccination rollout kicked off with a conventional approach.

“Thankfully,” he says, “more community-led initiatives are underway, and the vaccination rates are improving.”

We see this campaign  as a critical means by which we can reach tauria Māori and encourage their authentic engagement with the vaccination kaupapa.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori Te Kawehau HoskinsWaipapa Taumata Rau University of Auckland

This weekend’s ira dot campaign is one of those.

Led by a group of young Māori, Tāmaki Tū Kotahi is a collective of iwi, kapa haka, Hauora Māori providers and corporate partners working together to get Tāmaki Makaurau to 90 percent and “to be able to sing, dance, celebrate and connect again”.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Associate ProfesssorTe Kawehau Hoskins said the University had a long-standing relationship with the event team and the kura involved, and of course with Ngati Whatua over many years.

“We see this campaign, and the event, as a critical means by which we can reach tauria Māori and encourage their authentic engagement with the vaccination kaupapa. It is also an opportunity to strengthen relationships with them by visibilising the whanauangatanga between Kura and our tertiary institutions and the range of possible tertiary pathways open to them.”

Staff and student volunteers from Waipapa Taumata Rau will be at Eden Park, the hub of the event, hoping that young Māori and Pacific people will be encouraged by spot prizes, lucky draws, famous faces, and entertainment, to come along and get their dot (vaccination).

The GotyaDot pop-up initiative runs this weekend (6/7 November) at Eden Park and several other locations.

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