Church elder tested for first time - 'It's all about the community'

8:00 pm on 11 September 2020

A church elder at the centre of Auckland's sub-cluster says he got tested for the first time today after receiving a call from one of the pastors.

The Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church

The latest Covid-19 case in the community is linked to the sub-cluster from the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship group. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Joseph Hohepa Kotuku said as an elder at the church, it was his duty to get tested.

"It's for the good of community that's what it's all about. I'm a born-again Christian so it's all about the community."

There is one new community case of Covid-19 today, linked to the sub-cluster from the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship group.

Eighty-two percent of the church's congregation have now been re-tested.

He was aware of critical comments about the congregation.

"You're going to get that with a lot of critical people that are not Christians, they don't understand where we stand," Kotuku said.

"I see a lot of criticism but that doesn't worry us. We're doing what God has instructed us to do through the word of God."

Kotuku said God is his healer but he also believes it's important to use wisdom and abide by the law.

He said he got a test after receiving a call from one of the church pastors encouraging him to do so, and today was his first test.

Health officials have urged members of the congregation to get re-tested and so far almost 20 percent have not.

Kotuku said he attended the prayer meeting last month that was broken up by the police because it was a larger gathering than level 3 rules allowed.

"I understand they have to do their duty because of the government law. We all understand that. We're not perfect, sort of but we are obedient to the word of God's call."

He said prayer meetings have been held over Zoom since then.

There are now 55 people linked to the community cluster who are staying in the Auckland quarantine hotel, who have tested positive for Covid-19.

A student at Henderson North School in Auckland was one of the four cases confirmed yesterday.

Henderson local Paul Ragay got tested as a precaution today.

"I'm a bit concerned about what's going on around [here] and I'm working in the mental health sector, particularly knowing about schools and children, it's very close to my heart."

The student who tested positive is a household contact of a previously reported case, and had been in isolation. There are no close contacts among the Henderson North School community.

Principal Irene Ogden said a lot of kids stayed home today, after being given the option, but the risk is low.

A student at Henderson North School in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19.

Students at Henderson North School in Auckland are at low risk of catching Covid-19, the principal says. Photo: Google Street View

"We're reassured by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health that we're fine as a school. We're working hard to ensure that our children are safe, happy and learning. We just want them to be here."

She said the school is still open and keen to welcome students back after the weekend.

The city's testing centres will be open at weekend.

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