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Omicron has entered our whare – Maori Authority Chair calls for community readiness as the nation

Omicron has entered our whare – Maori Authority Chair calls for community readiness as the nation awaits genome and testing results

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has this morning said that Omicron is obviously now in the community and its time for each New Zealander to ready themselves. Tukaki also made an impassioned plea for people to get tested if they have been in or near a location of interest and for whanau to prepare themselves for potential periods of self-isolation. Tukaki also said the Government needs to consider now how quickly the country or regions will be placed into the red traffic light:

“Given today we are waiting for the Genome sequencing and testing of some of the cases and close contacts identified in the last 24 hours the time between Omicron having arrived and in the community is now over. At this point it comes down to preparedness and making sure each and every New Zealander has their own plan in place” Tukaki said

“One of the key challenges will be to ensure that we also match what will be an ongoing health response with a social services approach – one that Maori and Pacific organisations have been leading in the Auckland outbreak of Delta. But that will mean they themselves have the support and resources they need to care and support whanau who might be in for long periods of home isolation.” Tukaki said

“I do think we have learnt many of the lessons emerging out of Australia and our vaccination rates in the main are holding high – but those booster shots add another layer of protection against the severity of COVID19 – and that is why I have said we must be prepared to throw everything at the coming storm” Tukaki said

“And just respectfully; I have watched the commentary from the epidemiologists the last few days about whether or not the Government plan is full proof enough – to be frank no plan is ever truly full-proof and to be frank I would like to see the news cycle shift more from just what the health response needs to be to be one of social services and community response – to get the message out to whanau about what they need, what will happen if they do have to home isolate and what support will be available to them. Of course, continue with the vaccination message but in the quiet of our homes the nervous wait will be hanging on the question “what do I do if its me and my whanau” – including how will I cope” Tukaki said

Tukaki is particularly concerned for the regions and provinces with high Maori populations such as the Northland and the East Cost of the North Island and also expressed concern about whether or not the Ministry of Social Development’s systems will be able to withstand the demand if cases lift into the thousands:

“Keep in mind we are dealing not just with individual cases – because when it takes hold in a home the rates of infection will go through it like a bushfire. My message to whanau is be prepared – have your checklists in place and nowhere to get support from if and should you need it.” Tukaki said


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