Event partners, Auckland Council and Manukau Urban Māori Authority have together made the call to put community safety first by cancelling Waitangi ki Manukau.
The swift decision comes in response to the Omicron variant being in the community triggering the government moving Aotearoa to the red setting in the traffic light system.
A capacity crowd of thousands was expected at the free community event commemorating Te Tiriti o Waitangi on Saturday 6 February in Hayman Park, Manukau.
Chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee and Manukau Ward Councillor Alf Filipaina says it was a disappointing decision to make but absolutely the right one.
“Our teams had been working so hard to deliver a safe and fun event for all Aucklanders celebrating the importance of Te Tiriti as the founding document of our beautiful nation.”
“Under the red traffic light level of the Covid Protection Framework, events must have a capacity of 100 people. This makes holding Waitangi ki Manukau impossible. It is important that we all play our part in reducing the spread of Omicron in the community.”
Councillor Filipaina added that with vaccination rates for Māori still below 90% and booster shots still in the early days of being rolled out, putting the health and safety of Māori communities was a must.
Wyn Osborne, Chief Executive Officer of Manukau Urban Māori Authority, agrees saying that Omicron represents a significant health risk for Māori given the evidence to date.
“Māori had the highest incidence of infections of the Delta variant during the last outbreak. We do not want to see a repeat of those figures, so we are encouraging everyone, particularly Māori, to go and get vaccinated to protect your whānau, your hapu and your iwi. If you have had your two doses and it has been four months since your second, go and get your booster shot now.”
He also has a message to people who were nervous or hesitant about getting vaccinated.
“Reach out to your local marae, or a Māori health provider. They can offer the support you need and are happy to kōrero with you about your concerns. Please ignore any hōhā on social media. Come kōrero and we will support you.”
Waitangi ki Manukau was to feature well-known music acts such as Che Fu and the Kratez, Ardijah, and Annie Crummer with a host of food and retail stall-holders.
The message from both Councillor Filipaina and Osborne at the Manukau Urban Māori Authority is the same.
“We want our communities to be safe, so we are asking everyone to follow all the health advice from the Ministry of Health, wear your masks across your mouth and nose when heading out, touch base with loved ones to make sure they are okay and please stay at home if you are unwell,” says Wyn.
“We really appreciate the ongoing support of the Manukau Urban Māori Authoriy and look forward to planning Waitangi events with our Treaty partners again next year, but in the meantime, please stay safe,” says Alf.