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Source: Auckland Council

Mayor Phil Goff and councillors Alf Filipaina, Efeso Collins and Josephine Bartley today, 27 August, led a virtual fono (meeting) with Pacific leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on Pasifika people in Auckland and how the council could help with accelerating the vaccine rollout, providing welfare support and combatting racism.

Representatives from Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Ministry of Health, the Chief Executive of the Counties Manukau District Health Board and other Pacific-focused health organisations attended the fono, along with other Pasifika leaders including Māngere, along with other Pasifika leaders including Māngere-Ōtahuhu Local Board chair Lemauga Lydia Sosene, Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia and Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board chair Maria Meredith.

Mayor Goff says it was a productive meeting, and thanks the Pacific leaders for the important work they are doing to address COVID-19 in the community.

“Auckland is on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis and Auckland’s Pasifika communities have been most affected and have mobilised strongly to support the health response,” he says.

“In the call, we condemned the ignorant and bigoted attacks on Pasifika communities who are the victims of the virus, not the cause.

“COVID-19 can affect anyone—the virus is the problem, not people. I call on all Aucklanders to reject racism and to support each other as we respond to this crisis. I also encourage the government to prioritise vulnerable communities in their testing and vaccination efforts.

“Since the move to Alert Level 4 last Wednesday, almost 28,000 tests in Auckland have been taken by members of the Pacific community, the highest rate of testing per population of any group,” he says.

“Pacific health providers are now working with the government to boost vaccine numbers among the community. The Northern Region Health Coordinating Committee is working with churches to provide vaccinations on church sites, with one church working to have 4000 members of its congregation vaccinated next week.

“I am in ongoing discussions with the Ministers and health agencies around further measures to protect Pacific and other communities most at risk.

“It was good to be able to hear from Pacific health providers, who outlined the unique challenges they’re facing and what things both the Government and Auckland Council can do to support them. Council officers will now look at what additional support we might be able to provide, particularly in areas such as outreach and food delivery.

Cr Alf Filipaina, who chairs the Parks, Arts, Community and Events (PACE) Committee, said, “I ask everyone in Tāmaki Makaurau to unite and follow the health advice that we know will help us eliminate this virus from our community.

“I urge our Pasifika communities to use the free 0800 21 12 21 number, which is available for Pacific peoples aged 12 and over to book vaccinations for their bubbles.

“There are locations across the region where people and families can go to get their vaccinations, and I encourage everyone to go online and find the closest location to you.

“Additionally, people can use drive through testing stations at the Park and Ride site at Auckland Airport and the Trusts Arena in Henderson who prioritise Pasifika families; an appointment is not required.

“We are all in this together and the best way to combat COVID-19 is by working together as a community, supporting each other and getting vaccinated.”