Published Thursday 10 Jun 2021

More than 200 Pacific people have received their COVID-19 vaccinations at the Pacific Islanders’ Presbyterian Church in Newtown today.

Part of a series of ‘festival days’ – where the Pacific community is vaccinated together in a welcoming environment – today’s event was the first in the region to be held in a place of worship.

Capital & Coast DHB worked with Tū Ora Compass Health PHO and the church community on the event.

“It was wonderful to see so many of our older Pacific members there today, and we look forward to more events like this supporting better health outcomes for our vulnerable communities,” said Tū Ora Pacific Director of Health Henrietta Hunkin-Tagaloa.

“We had around 20 members of the Tū Ora team here today, all working hard to provide an innovative COVID-19 vaccination service close to home and in culturally-appropriate settings where people can feel relaxed, comfortable and supported.”

Following a prayer service, the church was transformed into a clinic – decorated with traditional fabrics, and healthy food and drink. The atmosphere was convivial, with music playing and hugs and kisses shared by members of a community coming together.

“We need to have this vaccination. Without it our health is at risk. Together with faith in God and His healing spirit, we will be well,” said Reverend Dr Feleterika Nokise in his sermon to the congregation.

Reverend Nokise was among the first to receive his vaccination together with his wife, and appreciated “the efficient way it was administered – it flowed beautifully. It’s a good thing for Pacific Islanders.”

CCDHB director of Pacific People’s Health Junior Ulu was also invited to address the service.

“It’s a great day for CCDHB. We recognise that Pacific people often have huge disparities in health outcomes and are an afterthought. But today is about putting you first – this is somewhere you can feel comfortable,” he said.

People from Samoa, Cook Islands, and Niue worship and meet together at the church. High Commissioner for Niue HE Hon Fisa Igilisi Pihigia was also among those receiving the vaccination today.

“This is where Pacific People go to come together – and it’s not only congregation members who have come along today.”

More senior members of the Pacific community were prioritised in the clinic, such as Paula Masoe, who hopes to use her vaccination status to travel to Samoa in the near future.

“Getting this vaccine is a must, given what’s going on in the world,” she said.

Image: HE Hon Fisa Igilisi Pihigia, High Commissioner for Niue, receives his vaccination

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Media contact: Chas Te Runa – 027 230 9571