Te Pāti Māori launches Covid-19 Pandemic Response Policy

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The Māori Party want a tangata whenua led Covid-19 response and for mandates to be abolished, saying the government has failed to provide equitable opportunities for Māori.

Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Today, Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer launched their Covid-19 Pandemic Response Policy.

They are calling to resource Māori to lead their own Covid-19 response, establish an independent statutory Māori Pandemic Response Group, and abolish government mandates.

They also want to keep international borders closed until Māori vaccination rates hit 95 percent.

Rawiri Waititi said the party was fundamentally opposed to mandates because they were a direct attack on our constitutional rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Their [government] latest mandate programme is a knee-jerk reaction to a failing system that has not been well thought out,” Waititi said.

“They have consistently provided a one size fits all approach. A narrow-minded approach that has vilified the unvaccinated people in this country,” he said.

“This has caused vaccination hesitancy and the division we see in this country.”

Under the party’s policy, hospital and medical clinic workers would need to be vaccinated, frontline health workers not in hospital or medical clinics would need to declare their vaccination status to patients and provide a negative test upon request.

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Additionally, all other unvaccinated frontline government workers and those in the education sector would need to provide a negative Covid-19 test every two days to their employer at their own cost.

On the other hand, the party said it would support mandates put in place by Māori organisations and businesses.

“Māori constantly find ourselves having to pick up the pieces of reckless government legislation that continues to marginalise and criminalise our people,” Waititi said.

“We are still recovering from legislation forced onto our people and for this reason we do not trust.”

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the government had failed to provide equity for Māori in accessing information, resources and vaccinations.

She said they had actively blocked efforts to protect our communities.

“I have witnessed the gaps with my very own eyes. Every piece of advice given by Tangata Whenua over the course of this pandemic has been ignored by this government. And they still don’t have a plan,” Ngarewa-Packer said.

“Their blatant willingness to ignore Māori health expert advice is committing us to beauracratic genocide.”

Monday was the final day for teachers and health workers to be vaccinated or face losing their job.

The vast majority of kura kaupapa Māori and kohanga reo staff have had the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the mandates in force.

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At last count, Te Rūnanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori data collection showed 94 percent of all staff have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Had the government heard Māori in the beginning of this pandemic, we would not find ourselves in a predicament where we are forcing people out of jobs, marginalising them further, criminalising them and putting their families welfare at risk,” Watiti said.

He believed mandates were an important tool that whānau, hapū, iwi, businesses and communities should be empowered to use where and when they determine a need. He said they should set their own tikanga.

Te Pāti Māori’s Covid-19 Pandemic Response Policy policy proposes:

  • Empower and resource Māori to lead our own Covid-19 response
  • Establish an independent statutory Māori Pandemic Response Group
  • Abolish government mandates
  • Affirm autonomy to set tikanga for tangihanga
  • Invest in holistic wellbeing
  • Implement a Māori home isolation strategy
  • Support whānau who are struggling and have been impacted by Covid-19
  • Keep our international borders closed until Māori vaccination rates hit 95 percent

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