COVID-19: Who we’re working with

Groups across health, government, business, academia, Māori and communities have been formed to give strategic advice and guidance for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Last updated: 17 March 2021

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We’re working with partners and stakeholders to make sure the widest range of needs, perspectives, concerns and advice are considered.

We’ll work with DHBs, the Primary Health Care network and others on what the rollout of vaccines might look like for each part of the health system.

Partnering with higher risk communities

Ensuring equity of outcomes is a key measure of success. We’ll be working 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 will be critical to the immunisation programme’s successful implementation. 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

We’re supporting our Pacific neighbours with access to COVID-19 vaccines and their rollout of an immunisation programme. This includes our six Polynesian Health Corridors partners:

  • the Cook Islands
  • Niue
  • Tokelau
  • Sāmoa
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu

We’ll purchase enough vaccines to cover these Pacific partners. Working with Pacific governments, other development partners, and technical agencies in the region.

Māori and Pacific providers

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 will play a crucial role in helping to maximise uptake and achieve equitable coverage for Māori and Pacific people.

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme will partner 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 has been established to oversee 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 will 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

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
Sue Gordon DCE, COVID-19 Health System Response
John Whaanga Deputy Director-General Māori Health
Shayne Hunter Deputy Director-General Data and Digital
Deborah Woodley Deputy Director-General Population Health and Prevention
Maree Roberts Deputy Director-General System Strategy and Policy
Wendy Illingworth Group Manager Public Health System
Michael Dryer Group Manager National Digital Services
Grant Pollard Group Manager Child and Community Health
Attendee Role/Representation
Mathew Parr Programme Director, COVID-19 Vaccine and 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


Silao Vaisola-Sefo

Pacific health provider

Dr Api Talemaitoga

GP and Pacific health expert

Nicky Birch

Māori communications and engagement specialist

Dr Nikki Turner

Vaccinator training expert

Taima Campbell

Nursing representative

Kevin Pewhairangi

Pharmacy representative

Dr Tristram Ingham

Disability representative

Rhonda Sherriff

Aged care representative

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