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Dr Rawiri Taonui | COVID Māori Update 13 May | Latest Test Stats, Tangihanga, Marae, Checkpoints and Racism
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COVID Māori Update 13 May | Latest Test Stats, Tangihanga, Marae, Checkpoints and Racism
Dr Rawiri Taonui 

13052020 1

New Zealand Situation

Zero Cases

The numbers give good news on the last day of Level 3. On the first day of ZERO new cases (4 May), I suggested we needed many more ZERO new case days and active cases below 50 before we could move confidently from Level 3.

Today, we had our 4th ZERO new cases day. The 10-day trend is: 0-0-2-1-2-2-2-3-0-0. While we have not reached 50 or less active cases, we are down to a new record low of 74, 13 times less than the peak of 930 active cases on 2 and 5 May.

Trend for Māori and Pacific

The 10-day trend of new Māori cases is: 0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0, with 21 ZERO days since 12 April.

The Pacific 10-day trend is 0-0-0-0-0-1-0-0-0-0, with 14 ZERO days since 3 April.

Active Cases

In more good news, 10 DHBs now have no active cases. Fewer of those DHBs need to improve testing.

DHBs Reported New Cases

14 of 20 DHBs have not reported any new cases for 2 weeks or more. The Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, West Coast and Te Tai Rāwhiti DHBs have not reported any new cases for 4 weeks or more.

Caution over Testing

We need to remain cautious. Over the last 3 days, there have been 12,720 tests conducted. The total is over 203,00 tests at a rate of over 40,600 per million of the population. This rate places us in the highest 12 countries from about 20th at the beginning of April.

The only caution we need to recognise is that testing over the last 3 days is significantly down on the 22,300 conducted over the previous 3 days.

Improved Ethnic Testing Figures Continuing Caution

The Ministry of Health has released the latest figures on testing to 9 May. This is the most up to date release they have made and therefore immensely helpful. There are significant improvements for Māori and Pacific. The biggest changes come in Whanganui, the only DHB testing the Asian community at the national average of 35 tests per 1000 of people, Te Tai Rāwhiti and Taranaki for Māori and Pacific, and Northland for Māori.

Testing of the Asian community is still a concern, not only to be sure that there are no undetected cases and community transmission; but also because of concern that this will reinforce racism against our Asian community. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said several times, ‘We are all in this together’. The national average for testing by Ethnicity is 35 tests per 1000 of people per ethnicity across all DHBs.


  • From 11 DHBs testing Māori under the national average of 35 tests per 1000m of people on 30 April, this changes to 8 DHBs.
  • Accepting that 10% above or below the average is acceptable 4 DHBs are testing below 10% off the national average down from 7 DHBs on 30 April.
13052020 2



  • From 11 DHBs testing Pacific under the national average of tests per 1000m of people on 30 April, this changes to 8 DHBs.
  • 4 DHBs are testing below 10% off the national average down from 9 DHBs on 30 April.

13052020 3


  • From all 20 DHBs testing Asian under the national average of tests per 1000m of people on 30 April, this changes to an equally unacceptable 19 DHBs.
  • 18 DHBs are testing below 10% off the national average, unchanged from 18 DHBs on 30 April.
13052020 4


Of most concern, the Rotorua Taupō Lakes, MidCentral, Nelson Marlborough, West Coast and Canterbury are under-testing Māori, Pacific and the Asian community.

13052020 5


The Government has backed down on Alert Level 2 rules only allowing 10 people at funeral and tangi. Health Minister David Clark, who took a day off mountain riding, announced this afternoon that up to 50 people can attend.

Funeral directors will need to fill out a form to register funerals with the Ministry of Health and declare that health requirements have been met and tangihanga will have to meet a range of public health measures set by the Ministry of Health. They include physical distancing, hand hygiene and no food and drink congregations afterwards.

Minister Clark said ‘Funerals are exceptional events and have been one of the most difficult areas of restriction that we've considered as we try to avoid the double tragedy of losing a loved one and spreading the virus’ and cited several overseas examples where COVID-19 had been spread during funerals.

While granted that has been a concern for others, Māori have proven they have what it takes to run tangihanga safely. And, there are many more international examples of contagion COVID-19 spread through pubs and restaurants than any Māori tangihanga or marae.

Māori have put their hands up during COVID-19 and risen to the call to support the nation. Māori have protected Māori and Pākehā communities through checkpoints. Māori have the lowest percentage of cases (8.5%) to demographic ratio of population (16.5), of all ethnicities. Pākehā are 70.7% of all COVID-19 cases. Māori have had 21 days of ZERO cases since 12 April.

And, it is Pākehā, not Māori that have been the majority of lawbreakers questioned at checkpoints or charged by the Police. If anything, Pākehā social gatherings should be changed to a limit of 5.

Tangihanga are by their nature events of deep respect and regard for the safety of others. Māori have accepted changes are needed for kawa and tikanga during COVID-19. The original singling out of tangihanga over pubs, cinema and restaurants was based on racist assumptions about Māori, marae and tikanga. Social distancing on marae will be far easier than social distancing in a restaurant or cinema. One challenges anyone to suggest how the 2-metre social distancing rule will work in the semi-intoxicated environment of any urinal in any pub across the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Please also pay attention to the needs of our Pacific community and the central role of their Churches. Aua ne’i galo o tatou tagata Pasifika.


The explicit mention of marae in warrantless searches is set to be dropped from the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill. References to private dwelling house or marae will be replaced with the term specified private premises. However, a private premises is still defined as a private dwelling house or marae. While it does appear that the intent of the law was not changed, this is balanced by the amendment including a requirement for any exercise of warrantless entry power onto marae to be first reported to the relevant marae committee.


The updated legislation has also removed a requirement that only Police run roadblocks. This was a Helen Clarke style foreshore and shellfish bow to the far right. There have been no roadblocks on public thoroughfares, only checkpoints. Māori started checkpoints to protect kaumātua and kuia and the members of their communities whether Māori or Pākehā.

Checkpoints have been successful. They uncovered thousands of Pakeha drivers breaking Level 4 and Level 3 travel rules. Most checkpoints are standing down, so the proposed rule was unnecessary. Northland might continue their fruitful working relationship with the Police.

We all know the absence of an immunity to Pākehā diseases took a huge death toll among Māori during early colonial epidemics. What is less known, is that between 1890 and 1960, Māori suffered from epidemics because land loss impoverished Māori society forcing whānau and hapū to eke out a living on ever smaller parcels of increasingly marginal land so that poverty, overcrowding and malnutrition combined in a manner to reduce even newly build immunity and increase the comorbidities that a disease like COVID-19 so readily exploits. More unrecognised still, alongside this, racism through differential health support and the belief that larger numbers of Māori died during epidemic events because they were racially weak, and their marae, kāinga and women were filthy, was the equal killer.

History will remember that the Māori COVID-19 Response 2020 was formidably awesome. The Crown would do well to note that Māori have never been stronger in the face of a pandemic/epidemic event than at any other time in our history. Trust the Māori COVID-19 Response, we are moving in the right direction, not the white direction.


Noho haumaru, stay safe and self-sovereign, Dr Rawiri Taonui.

                 rawiri t



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