Selwyn Parata, president of Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou, is concerned about the Covid-19 threat coming to the Gisborne area with the influx of visitors. Photograph / Michael Craig
East Coast iwi Ngāti Porou urges vacationers to rethink traveling to Tairāwhiti during the summer.
Selwyn Parata, president of Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou, said in a letter last night that there is a real threat of Covid-19 entering the region, which will overwhelm underfunded healthcare services.
Parata said, “The health services of our region are struggling to serve our people as they are now, without the real threat of Kovid-19. It would not be an exaggeration to say that health services will be overwhelmed when Covid-19 comes to our region.” .
“The Ngāti Porou people will be at the worst end of this struggle; some of us will become seriously ill and some of us may die,” he said.
In Tairāwhiti, 74 percent of eligible people are fully vaccinated.
Parata knows that many people will travel to Tairāwhiti for Christmas and New Year’s to reconnect with whānau and friends.
“Unfortunately, the hospitality and beauty of the house during the holiday period masks a bad reality for our hau kaenga throughout the year,” Parata said. Said.
“The reality is that our region and our people have some of the worst health, welfare and social statistics in Aotearoa. We also have one of the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates of all DHBs in Aotearoa.
“There are many people who work long hours doing their best to reverse these statistics, but it will take time to reverse a situation caused by deep-rooted and long-standing inequalities,” he said.
Parata is urging those who arrive in the region to be fully vaccinated and to have a negative Covid-19 test result before traveling to the region.
“I want you to think carefully about your plans for the holiday period. If you want to come home to Ngāti Porou, please consider the health and well-being of your whānau here.
“Please think about how you would feel if you brought Covid-19 with you on vacation. Please remember that our area will have a hard time taking care of you and your health if you get sick.
“Consider limiting your movements for a short time when you arrive in Te Tairāwhiti. If you can do these things, we will all be safer and we would love to see you home safely.”
“If for whatever reason you cannot do these things, please be less adventurous and consider staying where you are for now,” he said.
“We will gladly welcome you back to your home when it’s a safe time for all of us.”
Access to the East Cape lighthouse will also be closed to the public for the same reasons.