Mahia holidaymakers to be turned away at checkpoint during Easter weekend

6:24 pm on 8 April 2020

Bach owners heading to Mahia for Easter will be turned away at a community checkpoint being set up on the peninsula's main access road.

Hill and beach landscape at Mahia Peninsula

A view of Mahia Peninsula. Photo: 123RF

A few days into the Covid-19 lockdown last month and locals were describing Mahia Beach as "a ghost town".

But Rongomaiwahine Iwi Trust chief executive Moana Rongo said bach owners had been turning up in droves this week and that prompted the trust to swing into action.

It is managing the Nuhaka-Opoutama Road checkpoint at Black's Beach.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Mr Rongo was keen to stress that the initiative had the support of the wider community.

Volunteers from the trust and community would be manning the checkpoint 24 hours a day.

The trust was also working closely with the police, Mr Rongo said.

"These holidaymakers have been roaming the area and flouting the rules," he said.

"We want to protect our people."

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Mahia has about 1160 residents, but its population can swell by thousands during holidays.

The checkpoint would be set up on Thursday and remain in place "until the community feels safe", Mr Rongo said.

The trust has been supporting the Covid-19 emergency response in Mahia in other ways, too.

When The Gisborne Herald called, Mr Rongo had been delivering firewood and food parcels to locals in need.

He said freedom campers were being respectful of the lockdown and had stayed away from the peninsula.

The Mahia checkpoint is one of several being set up throughout New Zealand to clamp down on people trying to head away for the long weekend.

During Alert Level 4, travel must be for essential purposes only, and the police have said they will be enforcing that rule over Easter.

Hawke's Bay regional councillor Rick Barker said 12 checkpoints were set up in Hawke's Bay on Monday and more would be established in the coming days.

no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs