15 Dec 2021

Northland checkpoints start smoothly as border reopens

From Checkpoint, 5:46 pm on 15 December 2021

Police plan to remove the Northland Covid-19 compliance checkpoints in five days, then switch to roving checks like those being done in other parts of the country.

The checkpoints - one at Uretiti and one at Maungaturoto - ran smoothly today, with no major delays or hold-ups.

Police worked with teams from Tai Tokerau Border Control (TBC), but some TBC volunteers were not able to be on the frontlines while they waited to be vetted by police, which were required at the last minute.

TBC Uretiti compliance checkpoint organiser Nyze Manuel said of the 60 volunteers, only 12 had been vetted.

That limited the number of cars that were able to be checked on Wednesday. Manuel said she was hoping the checks could be fast-tracked over the coming days.

She said the volunteers had stepped up from across the rohe to keep the community safe.

"The people that have given their time, just amazing.

"You know, they're fathers, they're whānau and they've taken time away from their family."

Teams were today seeing far more vaccine passes than negative tests.

Inspector Rick Whiu said most motorists were doing everything by the book and police were focused on keeping traffic flowing.

"Most of the traffic that looks like it's going on holiday will get pulled over, and obviously we're unable to stop everything."

He said less than five people had been turned away because they could not provide a negative test or show their vaccine pass.

"I know there's been at least three or four people that have been turned around because they weren't going to help us help them."

Friday and Saturday are tipped to be particularly busy days for traffic. Inspector Whiu said police would be reviewing the checkpoints at the end of the week.

"Our intentions are to be in place for the next five days, but then we are going to shift our focus, [and] shift our model because everybody that's travelled through here is heading to somewhere and it's that somewhere where we also need to be."

He indicated that would likely move to roving checkpoints, to keep smaller and more remote communities safe.