Iwi driven Māori vaccination campaign reaches Te Tau Ihu whānau

Partnership and kōrero have been key to the success of Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui’s vaccination campaign for local Māori communities in Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island).

Published: Tuesday, 19 October 2021 | Rātū, 19 Whiringa ā-nuku, 2021

The collective of eight iwi from Te Tau Ihu was formed earlier this year to respond to COVID-19 and create a roadmap for their shared aspirations.

Communications specialist RaNae Niven, of Aroā Whakarongo, was brought in to help with the campaign and says its strength is derived from the many collaborations involved.

 “It truly is collective from Māori hauora providers Te Piki Oranga and Te Hauora o Ngāti Rārua to Waikawa, Omaka, Whakatū and Te Āwhina marae, the Nelson Marlborough DHB, primary health organisations and iwi who have all come together in an act of kōtahitanga to drive a successful campaign,” RaNae says.

The campaign has also leveraged the Karawhiua campaign co-delivered by Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Hiringa Hauora, fostering engagement with their comms staff and those from the Ministry of Health. This has resulted in other relationships being formed – most importantly with the Iwi Comms Collective and Ngāti Rangitahi.

“It has created efficiencies around sharing information and experiences that are invaluable to an iwi-driven campaign like this. For example, the national rangatahi campaign can now join up with our local rangatahi campaign to share information and provide support.

“Leveraging from a national kaupapa Māori campaign means we have been able to tailor our tactics with local messaging. The recruitment of whānau champions reflects their communities in an authentic way through panel discussions, video, photos on billboards and banners to running education workshops across the region. It’s a much more effective way for us to work and the results have been impactful.”

“For us, communications is whakapapa-driven and the Karawhiua brand has allowed iwi to put their own authentic tools together to reach whānau. We can just get on with the mahi ourselves at flaxroots and achieve a lot more reach,” says RaNae.

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu is all about supporting the mahi of local hauora providers and creating platforms for conversations so whānau can make an informed choice. 

“Our ‘Kai & Korero’ workshops are going exceptionally well. We have two under our belt - one at Nelson Boys and one at Queen Charlotte College. We are just starting our rangatahi engagement so hopefully, our funding allows us to do justice in this space, as it's a diverse demographic with different needs. The DHB have been very supportive of our ideas and approaches which has really helped us do this mahi.”

“Our approach to lift rangatahi vaccination rates is about creating opportunities for them to lead in those conversations. We are enabling a strategy that is designed and delivered by rangatahi themselves and we are actively supporting opportunities to do this across Te Tauihu.

 RaNae says the campaign has had its challenges, including from a personal perspective. “I am a year out from chemotherapy, so I grappled with my own thoughts on getting the vaccine.  I think that real life stuff helps you run an empathetic campaign.

“It’s important from an ethics standpoint that we’re able to provide information and answer pātai with empathy because we all process information at our own pace and make decisions in different ways.”

There’s a lot more to the work of Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu, particularly the work responding to the needs of whānau impacted by COVID-19.

“There’s a massive demand for Te Pātaka kai parcels which are distributed over the entire Te Tauihu rohe, from Mohua to Wairau. They also have a number of kaimahi who work directly with whanau to assist them with finding mahi and other urgent support they may need. It’s all hands-on deck to make a difference.”