Reflections on an Indigenous Led Covid-19 response in Aotearoa (New Zealand)
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Te Whanau o Waipareira, New Zealand
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1350
This presentation describes an Indigenous led health protection response to Covid-19 in Aotearoa, New Zealand by an urban Māori (Indigenous peoples of New Zealand) health provider. With the arrival of Covid-19 in New Zealand in 2020, deeply entrenched health disparities for Māori became further exacerbated as Government public health responses failed to address Māori and reach effectively into Māori communities. Te Whanau O Waipareira is an urban Māori organisation with a long-standing history of providing health and social services to Māori in West Auckland. Alongside other initiatives rolled out by Iwi (tribe) hapū (subtribe) and communities, Te Whanau o Waipareira launched a Māori public health response to the burgeoning Covid-19 outbreak, which aimed to protect Māori not only in urban centres but across NZ. Te Whanau o Waipareira - as a member of a larger Māori provider network - launched its own Covid response for testing, vaccinating, caring for those isolating and also supporting those suffering from the economic fallout from Covid. This response was driven by whanau (family) and was culturally grounded, meaning it was 'by Māori for Māori' using advocacy, community and collective ideology to deliver care. Using novel frameworks such as lay community vaccinators and rangatahi (youth) vaccinators Waipareira was responsible for delivering over 100,000 vaccine doses for Māori and non-Māori. Since starting in February 2022 Te Whanau O Waipareira' s covid care in the community service (Awhina) has supported over 500 vulnerable local Māori isolating with Covid with their physical and mental health as well as practicalities such as food, home supplies etc. This presentation concludes that the New Zealand government's Covid-19 response put indigenous Māori at risk and Māori providers such as Waipareira stepped up to protect communities using a novel indigenous community-based approach that has positively impacted on the health of Māori.
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