Tue, Dec 21, 2021 2:29 PM

Preparing for Omicron in Te Tau Ihu

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust is busy getting food supplies ready at the Wairau base for whānau that need it in preparation for the potential spread of Omicron in Te Tau Ihu over summer. Photo: supplied.

Staff Reporter

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust says they gearing up to support whānau once Omnicrom hits Te Tau Ihu (the top of the South Island).

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust have received $250,000 funding from the Māori Communities Covid-19 Fund administered by Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Arawhiti and Ministry of Health to accelerate Māori vaccinations.

"When Omicron hits, we will need to be ready to support our whānau in the community," says Dr Lorraine Eade, operations manager at Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust which covers the Nelson, Marlborough, and Tasman region.

Lorraine says the investment will be used to reach rural communities and they have just bought a campervan to do mobile clinics.

"It’s been absolutely flatstick. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working on the Covid hub, on our welfare response and what it’ll mean to have Covid in the community.

"The campervan will enable Piki Oranga to do the mobile clinics. When and if things calm down in the Covid space our eight iwi will be able to use it for other health priorities like cervical screening," says Lorraine.

The Trust has been working to boost Māori vaccination rates with Te Piki Oranga, Nelson Tasman PHO, Marlborough PHO, Nelson Marlborough Health and Te Hauora o Ngāti Rārua.

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu’s initial focus was under 24-year-old vaccinations led by the Ngāti Rangatahi campaign and their efforts with youth have worked.

When Ngāti Rangatahi first came together in late October, first dose vaccination rates for rangatahi Māori were at 32 per cent but now they are around 83 per cent for under 24 year olds.

"The key learning is we are too ancient to reach that target group but the young people leading it knew how to. Ngāti Rangatahi had their own clinic, tik tok competitions, gave free haircuts, they made Avatars, and had kai. We also went into colleges with public health to run our Kai and Kōrero programme," says Lorraine.

Having recent Covid cases in Blenheim and Nelson also helped with increasing Māori vaccination rates in the region.

"It reminded people of the importance of getting vaccinated. We were increasing something like 3 per cent a week with the community cases as people wanted to do it. Our next focus is the 25-50-year-olds which are a busy group as they often have jobs and children to look after and drive around," she says.

Lorraine says they are now gearing up for 2022 and doing communications around creating a whānau plan for being prepared if Covid hits your house.

"If positive Covid cases increase we want to be there to provide wraparound support. We had a major pack-out of kai in Wairau and Waimeha as with Christmas and school holidays whānau might struggle," says Lorraine.