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Manaaki Matakaoa Wins Kiwibank Community of the Year at New Zealander of the Year Awards

18 Apr 2022

Matakāoa was recognised for tackling misinformation "head on" and supporting their community to access vaccines and quality covid information

The Matakaoa community at the top of East Cape were last night named winners of the NZ Community of the Year Award in the annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year awards — and they had a great night celebrating.

The award recognises the community's mahi in coming together to address issues of Covid-19 protection, vaccination and misinformation.

The judges said the Matakaoa community worked together to keep Covid-19 out of their district, uniting in a shared purpose to keep people safe, and achieving “exemplary” vaccination rates.

The annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, in their 13th year, celebrate and honour “extraordinary Kiwis from all walks of life, those who inspire, give hope and lead across the six different award categories”. “Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award Ngā Pou Whirinaki o te Tau recognises a rōpū — a group of people that together have made an outstanding difference to their community this year,” an awards spokeswoman said. “They foster a strong sense of kotahitanga community spirit and their achievements enhance the social, economic, cultural or environmental prosperity of their rohe region, making it stronger and more vibrant.”

Matakaoa Covid response lead Tina Ngata this morning said that everyone in the community was thrilled to hear the awards announcement last night.

The awards streamed live on TVNZ On Demand and on Facebook.

“I am so proud of the team,” Tina Ngata said.

“It has been an amazing achievement and it's mahi that has gone on for a couple years, to which there have been many contributors.

“It all started with the checkpoints we ran up the East Coast to help keep our people safe, and then it moved into dealing with misinformation about Covid and vaccination, working with marae and with local teachers,” she said.

“The mahi has certainly saved lives and we have done that as a community.

“The ongoing work continues around Covid protection and whanau support.”

The Matakaoa team got together at the Hicks Bay Lodge last night to watch the live broadcast of the awards

“They had a great night,” said lodge manager Michael McClutchie.

“Lots of celebrations, lots of laughter, screaming when the winners were announced, good food and the drinks were flowing.

“They karaoke'd into the night.”

Matakaoa featured on television advertisements about Covid protection.

“The community worked together and decided collectively that they would embrace vaccination, declaring themselves an ‘immunity community',” an awards spokesman said earlier this week.

“Their innovative campaign to create social unity was to work with storytellers, scientists and doctors to learn about vaccinations and make sense of the information from their own perspectives and community values.”

Earlier this week Tina Ngata said being named finalists was “a huge pick-up” for all those who continue to work hard to keep their community safe.

“This award belongs to everyone.”

Maori leader Ta Tipene O'Regan, of Ngai Tahu, was named New Zealander of the Year.

Ta Tipene, who was knighted in 1994, successfully led the country's first iwi settlements — he was the chief negotiator in the team leading Ngai Tahu to settlement with the Crown in 1998.

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