E tū leaders get behind vaccine drive

Air New Zealand 787 members, Debbie, Andreas, and Melissa, help out on Super Saturday in October

Activist and community leader Gadiel Asiata was on a Zoom call about keeping his community safe during Covid when he realised: this was the perfect organising opportunity.

So the E tū National Executive rep put on his “organising hat” and proposed a committee.

A day later, he found himself on the very committee he’d suggested. His task? To connect with Samoan young people with a vaccination drive.

“This was one voice that wasn’t at the table. So we set up a Zoom and did a call-out to the youth of Manurewa. Within two days, we had a social media team and a promotions team.

“I was so overwhelmed by the talent that our young people have.”

Their first event in October was organised in a local carpark with a target of reaching 500 people over two days. But they almost tripled the number, with vaccination rates hitting more than 1300.

The other two events have also been a huge success, with more than 800 people turning out.

E tū delegate and Te Runanga member JD Rawiri says he wanted to protect his mokos and his daughter, who got sick with the virus while overseas

Pacific Health provided all vaccination services and security at the events, with the Cause Collective supplying meals and giveaways to those who got a shot.

Gadiel says the key to the drive was creating a community feel.

“The night before our event in Randwick Park – quite a gang-oriented area of Manurewa – we made our presence felt in the community by doing a community barbeque, giving out flyers, doing a mail box drop and talking to local kids.”

Being able to offer hot meals and creating an environment people felt comfortable in also helped, he says.

“Our job is to mobilise our community and bring people to the vaccine, but we’re doing this for everybody – every New Zealander.”

Bringing the community together at Randwick Park