13 Aug 2020

Taranaki leaders urge Defence Force to secure region's borders from Covid-19

7:26 pm on 13 August 2020

If the North Island moves to Covid-19 alert level 3 authorities in Taranaki want the Defence Force or Police called in to run checkpoints at its borders - and for central government to pay for them.

The view of Mt Taranaki reflected in the tarns on the Pouakai saddle.

The view of Mt Taranaki reflected in the tarns on the Pouakai saddle. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

In a joint statement, the Taranaki Mayoral Forum and the Taranaki Iwi Chairs' Forum say it's their collective view "we must create a Taranaki bubble to protect our people and our economy".

Mayoral Forum chair Phil Nixon said the military or police had the authority and resources to run checkpoints.

"What I'm saying is they are government agencies that can do that rather than last time when iwi put together checkpoints and I don't feel it should be pushed onto them and I also don't feel it should be landed on us as local authorities."

Nixon said Taranaki's geography made creating a provincial bubble achievable.

"We've got a fairly good opportunity where we can do that with basically three roads leading in and out.

"I think it's about protecting ourselves. I mean at the moment we're stopping people coming out of Auckland and I think it's more important to stop people coming into the other regions."

South Taranaki mayor Phil Nixon says the economic activity the windfarm is generating is great news for the district.

Phil Nixon. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

He was hopeful the government would have an appetite for setting up and paying for checkpoints.

"It would be far better for them and cheaper in the long run if we don't have them to manage the fallout from Covid-19 to the Taranaki economy."

The combined forums also urged the Ministry of Health to ensure Taranaki had adequate supplies of tests and personal protective equipment to cater for demand in the province.

"We also encourage anyone living in Taranaki who has either visited Auckland recently or had contact with a visitor from Auckland to get tested without delay," Nixon said.

Today 15 students and two teachers from Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth were sent home to self-islolate after discovering they had visited the Rotorua luge at the same time as the family at the centre of the latest community outbreak of Covid-19.

Taranaki District Health Board said it did not have any confirmation of community transmission in the province.

It has reactivated five designated testing clinics at Hāwera, Ōpunake, Waitara and two in New Plymouth which it said were experiencing an increased demand for testing.

It was asking people who have cold or flu symptoms to stay home and call Healthline, their doctor, iwi provider or one of the designated clinics.

The DHB urged Taranaki residents to download the government's Covid-19 Tracer App or to maintain a manual record of their movements, to follow good hygiene and physical distancing practices as well as following all other relevant Covid-19 alert level protocols.

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