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Dr Rawiri Taonui Covid Maori | The Mystery of the Locations of Interest Group and White Waitangi Day
Photo: Supplied.

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As predicted in the Waatea News column 29 January, yesterday saw a 4th case of the South African B1351 strain. A family member of the Auckland duo, thanks to our exceptionally good contact tracing isolation regime, they were already in isolation, there is no direct community risk.

The remaining risk for community transmission lies with the group comprising those who had been at any of the 60 odd locations of interest during the times the Northland and Auckland cases had visited.

Māori and Waitangi Day

Last week, the Iwi Leaders Chairs Forum Pandemic Response Group and the Te Kahu o Taonui collective of northern tribes recommended that Māori cancel planned large events for Treaty of Waitangi week because of the three now four cases of the B1351 strain.

The Kingitanga, the Māori Party and other organisations, like a large Māori health provider gathering, also withdrew from Waitangi. Local marae, hapū and other groups were free to make their own decisions. In Auckland, Ngāti Whātua has cancelled their event at Ōrākei. The Waitangi Festival ki Manukau and another in West Auckland were also canned.

This decision was taken to protect Māori communities in the North, kaumātua, koroua and kuia, and Māori aged over 50 years old who have a heightened risk because of the comorbidities they acquire 10 to 15 years earlier than Pākehā; conditions that Covid-19 has ruthlessly exploited in ethnic communities overseas over the last year.

The Locations of Interest Group

Last Friday, the Minister of the Covid Response and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced there were 620 people in the locations of interest group. By Monday, the group had grown to 1500. Dr Bloomfield said that all who have been tested so far are negative, which is great. However, he was silent on exactly how many have been tested, how many are yet to be tested, and how many results remain unconfirmed.

The Wednesday live briefing was equally perplexing with no update on numbers tested, those yet to be tested, unconfirmed tests and/or whether this group has grown further since Monday, and if so, by how much.

dr rawiri taonui covid-19 update - 1

White Waitangi Day

One likely reason for the silence no doubt relates to Labour wishing to minimise any chance of the locations group casting a shadow over their presence at Waitangi this week.

It is obvious that Labour has been planning Waitangi for some time. They have certainly used the week well, announcing a $150 million package to move the Ngāpuhi settlement forward, a change in legislation affirming that Māori wards will become a permanent feature of the local government landscape, approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and declaring Matariki a new public holiday starting next year.

Unable to relinquish the pomp and ceremony platform opportunity to parade party policy and with a significant risk group unresolved, Labour’s approach to Waitangi is an irresponsible slap in the face for mana whenua decision and the substantial work they have undertaken countering the conspiracy theories running rampant in some parts of our communities that Covid is a scamdemic plandemic.

That Labour chose self-promotion and happy hongi photo opportunities with the natives this Waitangi Day despite Māori concerns over Covid is culturally self-centred. If at any time during this week, substantial numbers of the locations group have not been tested, then Labour has also been playing with the health of Northlanders. If new cases do eventuate, White Waitangi Day might yet come back to haunt Labour.

Noho haumaru, Dr Rawiri Taonui

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