Government’s ‘roadmap’ will lead to a Covid crash in vulnerable communities

The Government’s tardiness in taking action on a workable Covid plan to protect our most vulnerable New Zealanders – children, young people and Māori communities – will have terrible consequences, says National’s Whānau Ora and Children/Oranga Tamariki spokesperson Harete Hipango.

“There is a complete lack of clarity in the Government’s Covid roadmap. Our vulnerable communities in Auckland and throughout New Zealand need a Government that’s geared up and accelerating to solve the problems. What we have is a Government driving with the handbrake on and it’s heading toward a crash.

“While it’s vital to get children back to school in Auckland, the fact is the Government has been lax with the vax. Children and young people are the most predictable transmitters of Covid, and vaccination must be stepped up immediately to allow them to resume their education safely.

“Latest statistics show that 40.3 per cent of Covid cases are among those aged 0-19, and that 23.9 per cent are aged 20-29. Meanwhile, those eligible for a vaccine among these age groups have had considerably less uptake than older New Zealanders.

“We also know that 19.5 per cent of all Covid cases are Māori, while Māori vaccination rates are still lagging behind at about two-thirds that of the general population.

“The Government is putting our already vulnerable at even more risk with its premature and poorly thought out roadmap. It has caused a lot of confusion for Aucklanders and all New Zealanders.”

“National made clear in its ‘Opening Up’ plan released last week that our top priority would be supercharging vaccinations – targeting the South Auckland area, Māori, young people and other vulnerable populations.

“We’ve put forward solutions such as ramping up vaccination clinics and walk-in centres, getting rangatahi/youth over 12 vaccinated in schools and universities, and increasing resourcing to Whānau Ora and Māori health providers. These steps would mitigate the risks causing huge concerns in the public. We want to see the same eagerness coming from the Government in its Covid response.

“Unfortunately, however, the Government continues to create obstacles by not taking advice.

“Last week Dr Rawiri Jansen, who spearheads the National Māori Covid Response group Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, was blocked from speaking at the Health Select Committee meeting by Labour MPs.

“Why is the Government, supposedly the most transparent ever, continuing to impose barriers and roadblocks to those most experienced and eager to deliver solutions?

“We continue to see these insufficient responses in protecting vulnerable groups. Last week it was the lengthy delay releasing the Oranga Tamariki Review Report. The Government has also found seriously wanting with its objection to child cancer treatment by district health boards on the grounds it was discriminatory.

“It’s time for the Government to listen and put plans in place that work.”