We’re (very clearly) not the government agency leading the vaccination campaign but we’re supporting the mahi to get Aotearoa vaccinated.
Our staff across the country have been out supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout from transport and traffic wrangling to sausage sizzling…
By Jeff Neems, Media and Communications Advisor, Kirikiriroa/Hamilton
Even after more than 30 years with Department of Conservation/Te Papa Atawhai, Saturday’s job was a first for Ray “Scrim” Scrimgeour.
The DOC veteran, now based back in Te Kuiti, was among seven DOC people in the Maniapoto district who contributed to local Super Saturday vaccination efforts – a key part of the Government’s push to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19.
Led by Community Ranger Jason Turner, the seven worked at three different sites in their district, supporting Super Saturday vaccination efforts at Maniaiti/ Benneydale, the Te Kuiti Medical Centre and Te Kuiti Pā. “We’ve done Civil Defence work and helped with Search and Rescue before – but this is the first time in my career with DOC we’ve supported a public health initiative,” says Scrim.
Scrim spent the day helping manage parking and traffic at Te Kuiti Medical Centre, dealing with a steady stream of vehicles – and familiar faces – throughout the day.
“We could see people were there for their vaccinations for different reasons,” he says. “For some it was a case of ‘just getting around to it’ because they’d been busy, while others were overcoming a bit of nervousness about the procedure.”
Ray says he was particularly heartened by the effort of one young local man, who made several trips to the medical centre with a station wagon full of passengers each time.
“It looked to me like he was working through all his mates, convincing them to come with him to be vaccinated – and that was great to see.
“The general mood was ‘hey, this is important, we’ve got to do it’. Having a weekend day with several options was vital for many of the people turning up.”
Scrim says local medical staff appreciated the support with managing traffic, as it freed them up to focus on the task at hand – getting people vaccinated.
“I spoke to one of our local GPs, who said managing traffic was very stressful for him, so he was very pleased to see us there!”
Jason visited all three Maniapoto vaccination sites through the day, ensuring has everything they needed for tasks including management of vehicles and people – and the always crucial barbecue operation.
“The community was in good spirits, it was all very positive,” Jason says. “A lot of people were surprised to see DOC people supporting the vaccine drive, and doing this sort of mahi.”
Jason says it was particularly pleasing to see many younger people at the Benneydale vaccination centre, which was set up – somewhat appropriately – at the township’s rugby club.
In other districts across the country, DOC has supported the vaccine rollout by providing vehicles and drivers to shuttle people to and from vaccination centres, managing traffic, manning barbecues for people at vaccination centres, and also assisting local health agencies and communities with food and supply deliveries to whānau.
Last year, DOC people in the Hauraki district delivered firewood to residents to support with resilience to the emergence of the pandemic – and related government restrictions – in their community.
By Ronnie Anderson, Senior Community Ranger, Whakaoriori/Masterton
DOC Wairarapa got behind ‘Super Saturday’, supporting events in three locations across the Wairarapa. By all accounts the day was a success with 1,278 doses being administered.
Wairarapa Operations Manager, Kathy Haukamau, says she was proud of the way her team pulled together at short notice.
“I put the call out on Wednesday and by the next day we had a crew of willing people. Some of them even rushed out to get their second shot to meet the requirement to be double vaccinated before the event!”
The ‘Green Team’ manned the BBQ across the sites; juggling sausages, meat patties, bacon and onions to serve the steady line of people.
A host of other free activities including face painting, bouncy castles, give aways, and even ice creams curtesy of Mr Whippy meant there was a real party atmosphere, says Kathy.
“It was a beautiful sunny day and people were enjoying the day out. They were really appreciative of what we were doing. Who doesn’t like a free sausage!”
Western South Island
By Teresa Wyndham-Smith, Media and Communications Advisor, Punakaiki
Western South Island staff were out supporting Super Saturday as they’ve been doing with other vaccination events on the West Coast since the last lockdown.
From Friday through to Sunday between seven and nine staff members were at the Greymouth Aerodrome managing traffic flow to enable West Coast DHB clinical staff to focus on vaccinations.
Over 1100 vaccinations were administered in Greymouth on Saturday, the second best result per population in the country.
Over the weekend of 9-10 October staff did similar work at a vaccination drive held at the Westland Milk Products carpark in Hokitika.
This followed a four-day stint for the first Coast vaccination drive held at Greymouth Aerodrome from 29 August to 4 September.
DOC has been asked to provide similar support at other events scheduled on 31 October and 7 November.
During lockdown Western South Island DOC also helped out by transporting test samples to Christchurch.