Māori community leaders and those working to lift vaccination rates in remote regions are urging holidaymakers to stay away this summer.
Tina Ngata, who has been organising vaccination drives on the East Coast, told Q+A she is “really worried about what’s going to happen over summer”.
“People seem to think that 90 per cent, there’s this big fanfare around 90 per cent, oh you get to 90 per cent and you’re going to be safe.”
She told Jack Tame that target ignores the many New Zealanders, such as those under 12, who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet.
“It’s quite appalling to me that we keep talking about this golden number that forgets what it’s going to mean to children.”
Ngata argues that even just focussing on the eligible population, 10 per cent means very different things depending on where you are in the country.
“It’s going to be very different for people who live a five-hour drive from a hospital, than it will for people who live a 10-minute drive to hospital.”
She had a particular message for holidaymakers hoping to head out of the cities.
“You’ve also got to take into account our health services so, you know, we have extremely minimal health services in rurally isolated regions. And those extremely limited health services have been going you know, hell for leather over the last few months trying to get as many people vaccinated – they are tired, they are fatigued, and they’re exhausted – and Covid hasn’t even arrived yet for us.
“So I really worry about people coming here, leaving their perfectly good health system where they are, coming here where there is very little to no health system in place, and expecting us to be able to look after them, because they want a holiday.
"That will come at the cost of out household that needs that care, that desperately need that care and they don’t have the option to go somewhere else.”