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In Kawerau one thing impedes the effort to vaccinate Māori: New Zealand’s history

Low Covid vaccination rates among Māori reflect practical barriers – but they also have good reason to distrust the government

One of my earliest memories is racing up a flight of hollow stairs in Kawerau’s town hall as Tiwi, my first friend, counts down from 20. “Ready or not, here I come” he roars from the stage. I slide through the doorway to the makeup room, carving a two-lane highway into the dusty floors. The lighted mirrors paint the room in yellow and gold. I wriggle my tiny body into one of the cubby holes for bags and belongings. The doorknob turns. The door creeps open. “Found me”, I yell at Tiwi. After a three-second delay he yells back “but where”, still searching behind the velvet curtains on stage.

Dad’s boxing gym is hidden below that stage. The heavy bags, the leather pads, the medicine balls, and the sparring gloves wash the stage in the smell of rubber and sweat. Tiwi and I tutu (fidget) with the flood lighting most weeks, waiting for the boxers to finish their cardio session on stage and head for sparring and pad work downstairs. Dad screams at that perfect decibel level where the soundwaves crash against your ear but the background violence scrambles the electrical signal to your brain. Is he saying “right, left, right” or “left, right, left”? For most of Kawerau in the 1990s the town hall was a boxing gym with cosmetic facilities. For Tiwi and I, it was our playground.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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