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Authorities hoping to turn around hesitancy among Māori, Pasifika about getting Covid-19 jab

As the clock counts down to New Zealand's first Covid-19 vaccinations, attention is also turning to uptake among Māori and Pasifika.

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Meetings with Pacific leaders are being held and a targeted plan for Māori will be released soon. Source: 1 NEWS

Ministry of Health research shows both communities are less likely to get the jab.

"I think there is a sense of hesitancy and some of the surveys show that," Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio told 1 NEWS.

A 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll last year showed 44 per cent of all New Zealanders say they would definitely get vaccinated for the coronavirus, compared to 34 per cent of Māori and 28 per cent of Pasifika.

The Pacific Peoples Minister is hoping to rectify that by holding a Zoom meeting with more than 500 leaders from the Pacific community.

"For a long, long time you've had a mainstream health system that hasn't necessarily been good at connecting up with minority groups," he says.

Māori GP Dr Rawiri Jansen agrees, saying Māori and Pasifika aren't against vaccines but want to know more.

"People will be somewhat distrustful of a health system that has delivered poorly for Māori over decades and decades," he says.

"The really important thing is that we know the vaccine hasn't arrived when we've asked that question. We know that people haven't had the opportunity to get information about the vaccine."

Others also blame misinformation.

"We're very cognisant of that. We're coming up together with a plan in particular aimed at our Māori communities to dispel many of the mis-truths that are being spread," says Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare.

Further national and regional meetings are being planned for the Pacific community on vaccines, while a targeted plan for Māori will be released soon.

The countdown is now on as border workers line up for the jab this weekend.

"Within that group we understand that there are large numbers of Pasifika and Māori, so we're already reaching out to those communities," vaccine programme lead Dr Joe Bourne says.