500 signatures reached
To: Chris Hipkins, Covid 19 Response Minister
Open Letter to the Hon Chris Hipkins – put Māori health needs first
We, the undersigned, call on you as the Covid 19 Response Minister to apologise for saying you are stepping away from the Covid elimination strategy despite low Māori vaccination rates. We urge you to engage with Māori health leaders and communities on a strategy that puts Māori health needs first not last.
Give Māori the resources to achieve what the Crown has failed to achieve in this pandemic and step us all back from a racist strategy.
Why is this important?
We are writing to express our extreme disappointment, concern and outrage at your statement on 06 October 2021 that you are not sure the Government would be stepping away from the Covid19 elimination strategy if the general population had the same vaccination rate as Māori.
We believe that you have just confirmed the worst fears of many tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti people that the Crown still regards the Māori population as disposable? The implications of your statement are destructive.
Firstly, the history of pandemics in this country has been a history of various forms of discrimination and neglect against Māori communities with the mass graves to prove it. Why would you perpetuate this tradition by making a statement that implies a high-risk community is not worthy of the highest level of consideration, protection and resources? The lower vaccination rates are a call to change monocultural strategies not a call to put them at increased risk when you know what that risk amounts to.
Secondly you are failing the Crown obligations to be in an honourable relationship with whānau, hapū, iwi and all Māori organisations. Māori are not a minority group or stakeholder in the struggle against Covid 19. Their rangatiratanga means the Crown has an obligation to negotiate regarding changes to a strategy that has direct and potentially disastrous effects on Māori.
Thirdly you are undermining the Māori communities and health professionals fighting so hard to work with you and protect people. The success of the vaccination programme in places like rural Tairāwhiti and Te Whānau Apanui, the generous and effective programmes led by urban Māori groups tell us what works. People have been giving their all to ensure this pandemic does not decimate a population with health issues caused by years of inequity in the health system.