In a scene reminiscent of the dawn raids, a big group of Pasifika families in Tauranga were told they couldn’t be vaccinated unless they presented their passports first.
A provider who tried to register the families for vaccinations on Friday was told by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board they wanted to see their passports to check if they were seasonal workers.
Sameli Tongatea who works with the Tauranga families said it felt like the 1970s dawn raids all over again where Pasifika had to present their passports to authorities.
1 NEWS spoke to one of the families involved, who were left distressed at the situation.
Lisa Leaaepeni says she wanted to withdraw her family from the vaccination programme but in the end changed her mind because she says, its important.
“If you want the community to do their stuff to get their injections let them do it, they don’t need to have their ID or anything it’s really important for all the families out there to get their injections,” she said.
Regional Public Service commissioner Ezra Schuster says he was told about the incident from his community and has been working with the DHB to try and resolve the issue.
He said there was a “huge level of disappointment” and things needed to change.
Schuster said the Bay of Plenty DHB board had apologised for the hurt this would have caused.
“This is an opportunity for the DHB in our Pasifika community, certainly in Tauranga, and across the Bay of Plenty to really better understand what the needs are and really learn from the experience,” he said.
The Government has made it clear that anyone, resident or not, is able to be vaccinated.