Partnering with higher-risk communities

Ensuring equity of outcomes is a key measure of success. We work closely with communities most at risk and where there’s a higher need for the vaccine. This includes protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and our most vulnerable population groups, such as:

  • older people
  • disabled people
  • people living in rural or remote areas
  • ethnic communities
  • health workers
  • essential workers
  • border staff.

This approach acknowledges the key risks COVID-19 has to different segments of the population. This includes the need to address equity concerns in health outcomes for Māori and Pacific communities.

Partnering with Māori and Pacific

Māori and Te Tiriti

Iwi and Māori partnerships are critical to the immunisation programme’s success. We’re committed to working with Māori providers and empowering them to deliver COVID-19 immunisation to their communities.

This includes upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and working in partnership with Māori. This is fundamental to the programme’s success and protecting the unique whakapapa of New Zealand Aotearoa.

Pacific neighbours

All health providers are responsible for the immunisation of the Māori and Pacific people in their communities, but we know that Māori and Pacific providers hold trusted relationships with the whānau they serve. These providers play a crucial role in helping to maximise uptake and achieve equitable coverage for Māori and Pacific people.

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme partners with Māori and Pacific providers so they can deliver tailored and targeted approaches to their communities as part of the wider COVID-19 vaccination programme rollout.

The Government has committed dedicated funding and resources for Māori and Pacific providers and communities to prepare for this.

COVID-19 Strategy Taskforce

A COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy Taskforce oversees the implementation of the vaccine strategy. The interagency taskforce consists of:

  • the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (as the lead agency)
  • the Ministry of Health and its regulatory agency Medsafe
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) supports the taskforce with expert advice about the vaccine strategy work.

Planning and delivery groups

COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Governance Group

The Immunisation Programme Governance Group for COVID-19 vaccine acts as an oversight and assurance body. They oversee progress on purchasing, sequencing and delivery of any successful COVID-19 vaccines.

Member Role
Dame Dr Karen Poutasi (Chair) Commissioner, Waikato DHB
Dr Ashley Bloomfield Director-General, Ministry of Health
John Whaanga Deputy Director-General Māori Health, Ministry of Health
Steve Maharey Chair of PHARMAC
Chris Seed Chief Executive and Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Carolyn Tremain Chief Executive, MBIE
Murray Jack IT expert and former CEO and Chair of Deloitte
Ngāhiwi Tomoana Chair of the Māori Economic Development Panel and Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu
Dr Fa’afetai Sopoaga Associate Professor, University of Otago
Attendee Role/Representation
Jess Hewat Treasury, Manager Health & ACC attends as Treasury observer
Dr Peter Crabtree An optional attendee as the Chair of the Vaccine Taskforce
Mathew Parr Attends as the COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Programme Director
Dr Ian Town Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Health, is an optional attendee

The Immunisation Programme Governance Group for the COVID-19 vaccine held its final meeting on 8 October 2021.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Programme Steering Group (SG)

This Steering Group supports programme decision making and provides direction and oversight to the programme team regarding strategic risks, issues and opportunities.

Member Role/Representation
Dr Ashley Bloomfield (Chair) Director-General
Bridget White DCE, COVID-19 Health System Response
John Whaanga Deputy Director-General Māori Health
Shayne Hunter Deputy Director-General Data and Digital
Maree Roberts Deputy Director-General System Strategy and Policy
Wendy Illingworth Group Manager Public Health System
Michael Dryer Group Manager National Digital Services
Attendee Role/Representation
Astrid Koornneef Director, National Immunisation Programme
Dr Ian Town Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Health, is an optional attendee
Dr Caroline McElnay Director Public Health, Ministry of Health, is an optional attendee

COVID-19 Immunisation Implementation Advisory Group (IIAG)

The Immunisation Implementation Advisory Group (IIAG) provides independent, practical advice to the Ministry of Health on how to plan, prepare and implement a COVID-19 immunisation campaign, in the event suitable vaccines become available.

This group represents a range of sectors and skills who contribute towards providing practical advice to support the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.



Te Puea Winiata Co-Chair, Chief Executive Turuki Health Care
Keriana Brooking Co-Chair, Chief Executive Hawkes Bay DHB
Dr Helen Petousis-Harris Vaccine safety and effectiveness
Dr Angela Ballantyne Bioethicist
Silao Vaisola-Sefo Pacific health provider
Nicky Birch Māori communications and engagement specialist
Taima Campbell Nursing representative
Kevin Pewhairangi Pharmacy representative
Dr Tristram Ingham Disability representative
Rhonda Sherriff Aged care representative
Loretta Roberts National Manager, Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC)

The COVID-19 Immunisation Implementation Advisory Group (IIAG) held its final meeting on 4 February 2022.

COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB)

Established in February 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB) provided advice to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM), Medsafe and the Ministry of Health on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine(s).


  • assessed potential links between reported adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) and COVID-19 vaccines
  • reviewed all serious and significant AEFI for the COVID-19 vaccines that are presented for expert opinion (this includes all fatal reports)
  • advised Medsafe and the Ministry of Health in relation to the balance of benefits and risks for potential safety concerns under investigation and whether further action is needed
  • ensured equity is a key consideration for the collection, monitoring and reporting of adverse events.

Throughout 2021 and the first half of 2022, the CV-ISMB held meetings every 3 to 4 weeks. In the second half of 2022, the CV-ISMB met every 6 to 8 weeks.  No meetings were held in 2023 and the CV-ISMB concluded on 30 June 2023. Responsibilities held by the CV-ISMB have been handed over to Medsafe.

Recent statements from the Board on the Ministry of Health website:

The Board’s Final Report:

Final Report of the COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB) – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand


The Board’s Interim Report:

Board Minutes  

Minutes were prepared after each meeting. Minutes have been redacted of information that would breach the privacy of natural persons, including the deceased, or that could constitute contempt of court – including all information that is subject to coronial investigation. Redactions are in line with the Official Information Act 1982.