Auckland’s Cook Islands vaccination event, reviewed

Vaccination events for Pasifika were held across Auckland last weekend. Tina Tiller shares her experience.

Kia orana tatou katoatoa.
Tūrou….Tūrou ko au teia ko Tina Tiller
E arara aka’meitaki ki te Kuki Airani Covid vaccination team

To tell you the truth, I got my jabs because my mum booked me in. Bless her. She works in the mental health sector and is very mindful of people’s health. My mum is deep in the community, doing all the “bits” to get her people what they need. So when she got the info, she rang up all my cousins and their mums to let them know they could go to get the first dose, where to go, what time, who to bring. It’s brilliant. Word of mouth, baby.

Saturday morning rolls round, that sunny Saturday, the real good one.

Mum: Girl, what you doing I booked you in for your second dose.
Me: Oooohye okie algood, yeyeyey.
My brain: Guuuuuurl you sure?
My gut: *empty*

I was wigging out thinking maybe it was too soon – I had my first dose four weeks ago – but when we got there the nurse reassured me that it was all good. On the way there I was thinking I’d see how I felt and maybe if I wasn’t convinced or feeling good I just wouldn’t get it (that’s my type of thinking). The sun was out when we rolled up to Atiu hall around lunchtime, all the way out south.

When we got there, it was super cute! I saw the fence and the people with masks (normal) but the first thing I experienced was the music. They had the drums going and if that doesn’t get a party started then I don’t know what does. We had some uncles in hi-vis that greeted us at the fence and told us which cones to follow and who to speak to next. So Mum’s talking in Raro to the wardens, having a yarn because everyone’s family at those places. The whole time we were there she was on the hustle to get all the free things.

Volunteers wearing the masks my mum wanted (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Mum only spoke Raro when we were there and everyone spoke it back, but spoke to me and my cousins in English so everyone was covered. Everyone had the plastic face covers with masks and gloves: safety at its finest. We were greeted by a gorgeous lady who asked all the usual questions.

Her: How’s your day?
Us: Great, thank you
Her: Have you been vaccinated before?
Us: Yes
Her: Did you know about the competition to win flights to Raro?
Us: Yes, that’s why we’re here!

Then she directed us to another lady who explained the next steps. At this point I was like yep I’m all in because I was having too much fun. If I’d rolled up to the place I got my first dose, a random vaccination centre, I wouldn’t have gotten out of the car. But the vibes at the Cook Island event were on point. Aaaaaaawwwwwn. I think the music convinced me.

The first priority was definitely getting the vaccine. We only spoke to the people we needed to, rolled on through, got our jabs and rolled on to the observation area where the party started.

There were volunteers there with water bottles, hand sanitisers, and food parcels with fruit, doughnuts and delicious goods to give to cars filled with families. It all felt very considerate. The music was of course on the whole time, we had volunteers dancing, and there was a guy with a microphone (an entertainer, you might say) chatting with random people all stretched out from a distance. They’d have a lil yarn, then he’d give them a parcel and carry on.

He spoke to my mum and gave us a box of doughnuts and a $100 Pak’nSave voucher. It was a bunch of communities coming together. I just know it was the church community that made the doughnuts for those parcels. Really warmed my heart.

I ate one of the doughnuts and it was so fresh, so soft, so good, bloody amazing. After 15 minutes I was blown away. We didn’t get our Cook Island masks which my mum had been hustling for but overall it was the best experience. Didn’t even feel the needle and got a box of doughnuts just for participating. Everyone needs to get their vaccine like that. I want everyone’s vaccination experience to be a good one.

The next day I was tiiiiiiired. I slept all day and didn’t have much of an appetite, but I knew to LET THE BODY REST. I got out of bed at 9pm, ate a banana, sculled a glass of water and went back to bed. Woke up fine. Please give your body time to suss out what it needs to do.

I didn’t win the flights.

Meitaki rānuinui.




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