OPINION: Thank you Te Marae Ora and New Zealand

Saturday 29 May 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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OPINION: Thank you Te Marae Ora and New Zealand
The vaccination clinic at Rarotonga Hospital. 21052427

No matter what you believe or not, we must take advantage of the vaccination rollout programme to protect ourselves and each other from a virus that continues to ravage parts of the world, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Being grateful is something we learn as children and often it was around the little that we had – and to be grateful for it.

The truth is, most of us didn’t realise that having shoes was a luxury as everyone else in the neighbourhood didn’t have shoes either. Though I remember the one girl who did – Tania Waredale was her name; it seems that having shoes and the memory of it can last for years.

Gratefulness is that attitude of gratitude – e tu rekareka e te akameitaki toku – where we see with eyes that say thank you, and a heart that is warmed by what we have been given.

Always understanding – and so often because all our mothers said the same thing – that there were always those with less then we have and for that reason we should be grateful.

Being grateful is a decision that we make, it is an attitude we choose, and one we choose over being ungrateful, of being thankless, of being miserable and miserly with what we have, and what we have been given.

As much as you or I can remember those moments of gratefulness, we also remember acutely those who were ungrateful, those who showed a mean spirit, and those that despite everything, simply forgot to say thank you.

For this reason, I would like to say thank you to Te Marae Ora and to the Cook Islands government for the rapid roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination process, where over 8000 of our people have been vaccinated in a very short space of time.

As I received my second vaccination earlier this week here in a very chilly Poneke, my heart was warmed to see my elderly parents, in a photo on Te Marae Ora Facebook page, walking into the vaccination tent ready to receive their first vaccination shot.

That we had our vaccinations on the same day was a reminder that for many of us our lives are mapped out before us and all we do is simply follow the path before us and the light that shines at our feet.

But no matter what you believe or not, we must take this opportunity to protect ourselves and each other from a virus that continues to ravage parts of the world.

In our own backyard, Fiji has 46 cases of Covid-19 which have tested positive in central Suva, taking their total to 195 cases, with 22 of those from Fiji’s Navy. And in Melbourne Australia, where so many of our Cook Islands community live and work, is in lockdown to manage the Covid-19 outbreak they have had over the last week.

Our cousins in Tahiti have not fared so well after the territory’s government re-opened to tourists last July and French Polynesia was struck by one of the Pacific’s worst outbreaks of coronavirus. There, 18,000 people – more than the total population of the Cook Islands – were infected, and Tahiti’s hospital was pushed to the limit, and 141 people died.

Thankfully since January, the numbers have been steadily declining and Tahiti hasn’t recorded a coronavirus death since March 6 and 50,000 of the nearly 300,000 population have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Last week the French territory again reopened its borders for quarantine-free travel from some countries including the United States, with celebrity Kim Kardashian and her family now fighting off rumours that they actually caught Covid during a luxury trip by the family to Tahiti last October.

As we approach close to 7031 or more than 90 per cent of Rarotonga’s population and just over a half of our total population vaccinated with the first shot, we can be grateful for New Zealand’s continued support.

New Zealand is sending to the Cook Islands all the Pfizer vaccine we need, plus technical advice, vaccine logistics planning and support, and vaccinator workforce training.

This also includes the supply of consumables such as syringes and the transportation of the vaccine to our beautiful paradise.

Coupled with the work and logistics of Te Marae Ora and a team of vaccinators from New Zealand, we are all grateful and thankful for this support which means we will be able to protect our mamas and papas, our adult population, and those frontline border and health workers from a virus that is mutating and adapting as fast as we are working to keep it out.

Nonetheless my position has not changed, that we should have vaccinated our population before the borders opened, and not after or during, and especially when we see how quickly this is happening and rolling out. Regardless I and many others are grateful that is happening.

If ever there was a time that we could be ever more grateful for our constitutional relationship with New Zealand, it is now.