Churches play a critical role in crisis management for Pacific communities and while we celebrate White Sunday, I want them to take the opportunity to strongly recommend with the COVID-19 lockdown in Auckland, online virtual services, said Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.
“Tuvalu, Samoa and Tokelau communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand will welcome White Sunday or Lotu Tamaiti this weekend, a day when our children are celebrated by their parents and their church congregations.
“I want to see Auckland families gathering in smaller numbers to celebrate White Sunday. I want them to keep to a maximum of up to 10 people within 2 households and meet outdoors.
“I also want to acknowledge our Pacific youth groups such as the ‘Bubblegum Group’ and the ‘Gotha Shot Toks’ who have been leading the recent Samoan and Tongan vaccination events in Auckland,” said Aupito William Sio.
Reports from these events showed vaccination numbers for the Samoan community at 4,500 over four days and for the Tonga community, 1466 vaccinations in two days.
Pacific youth ages 12-19 years are now leading the fully vaccinated numbers in our communities. As at the 5th of October in the 12-19 year old age group: 64 per cent have had their first dose and 22 per cent are fully vaccinated. In the 20-23 year old age group: 64 per cent have received their first dose and 31 per cent are fully vaccinated.
“Pacific churches outside of Auckland at Level 2, must continue to maintain protective habits of mask wearing, social distancing and QR codes to record people who might attend services,” said Aupito William Sio.
“Safety for our children is a key priority for White Sunday celebrations. It is our best gift for our children and to future generations to live, thrive and prosper; and to ensure everyone from 12 years plus are vaccinated.
“I wish everyone a wonderful White Sunday, please be safe, protect each other and to our Pacific youth, lead the COVID-19 talanoa with your parents, families and peers. Show your resilience and confidence to lead in your journey by getting vaccinated,” Aupito William Sio said.