“It feels good, especially being part of the whole team trying to get it all done,” said Desmond Rewi after his second jab.
There was no question about where Desmond Rewi would go for his jab.
Three cousins who work at Hamilton’s Te Kōhao Health had encouraged his whole household to come during the Government’s Super Saturday drive.
“It feels good, especially being part of the whole team trying to get it all done,” Rewi said, not long after getting his second shot.
Once restrictions ease, he’s looking forward to taking the family to Kāwhia – where his father is from – for beach time and to get out on the boat for fishing.
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Thousands of people got a Covid vaccine in the Waikato on Saturday – 9612 doses had been delivered before 5pm, according to the district health board.
Nationally, the country hit a 100,000-dose target by 3pm.
Clinics were dotted around the Waikato region – much of which is in alert level 3 – including one in Huntly where gangs that are traditionally rivals converged for a Q&A session with indigenous experts and the chance to be tested or vaccinated.
In Hamilton, there was a celebratory atmosphere at Te Kōhao Health’s centre, on Kirikiriroa Marae, with staff in party hats and balloons, banners and decorations.
The Vaxathon was on the big screen for the obligatory 15-minute wait, or people could enjoy the sunshine outside.
And even the traffic management was kaupapa Māori.
Instead of the standard stop/go, whare-shaped signs read taihoa/haere, and stood on pou whenua crafted by a carver.
The signs were recently first used on the road in the Bay of Plenty, David Taui said.
He and wife Melanie run Rotorua-based Damels Traffic Management and donated their time and skills to Te Kōhao Health’s kaupapa, with Infrastructure Management-sponsored cones and signage.
“It’s only my opinion, because I know there’s a lot of opinions out there… but I’m double-jabbed and my wife is double-jabbed,” Taui said.
Hamilton man Michael Peck got his second vaccination early to support Saturday’s initiative.
“It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?” he said.
Peck was among the first of the day to get a dose at a Melville Skate Park clinic run by Raukura Hauora o Tainui, where the barbeque was running and sausage packs being handed out.
Once Peck can get out of Kirikiriroa, a decent tramp will be high on the list of things to do.
He has one planned in the Kaweka Range in three weeks’ time.
“That will be 50/50 whether we can get there or not, depending on the [alert] level,” he said.
“This is just the reality that we’re in.”
By afternoon, there were plenty of patches among the crowd at a Huntly hui and vaccination session organised by the Mongrel Mob Kingdom.
The kai was out and the music pumping as attendees prepared to put their questions to indigenous health leaders. Members of the rival Black Power gang were welcomed at the event.
Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom head Sonny Fatupaito told those present he hasn’t got the jab, but wanted heads of families to hear from experts for their decisions.
He put out a warning: “If you catch it and one of your people gets it and passes away, that’s on you”.
“We want to leave here knowing what we’re going to say to our families when we get home.”
At the event was Jason Harder, who’s had both shots.
”We’ve got a three-week-old newborn, so this sort of thing is important for us.”
“If I could take a jab for everyone in the country right now, I would just sit here and take a jab all day,” the plumber and gasfitter said.
He is half-Samoan, and was in for his vaccine as soon as the Pacific rollout began, and had no pain or side effects, he said.
“The only thing I felt was like I was doing the right thing.”