6 Oct 2021

'It becomes very real when it arrives in your community' - Ōtorohanga mayor

7:47 pm on 6 October 2021

The mayor of Ōtorohanga is urging his district to be safe and get vaccinated after one of today's new Covid-19 cases was in the King Country coastal town of Kāwhia.

Lockdown visitors are not welcome in Kāwhia.

Photo: LDR / KCN

The township of 300 people, south of Raglan, is not included in the level 3 lockdown area.

Ōtorohanga District mayor Max Baxter told Checkpoint the news came as quite a shock.

"It becomes very very real when it arrives in your community," he said.

How it got in, or out, he wasn't sure.

"They (Kāwhia) are a community who are pretty careful about how they go in and out and they get quite defensive - and rightly so - when there's Covid in New Zealand."

There would be an increase in opportunities for testing and vaccination in the community from tommorrow, he said.

The area so far has had low numbers of vaccination.

Just over 65 percent of the community's eligible population have received their first vaccine, but in the wider Ōtorohanga District, less than 60 percent have had their first dose, making it the region's least vaccinated area.

"We see that there hasn't been the level of vaccination across my district there probably should be and I understand people are nervous, there's a level of trepidation and anxiety, having something foreign put in your body.

"Covid-19 and Delta has taken away our liberties, it's not the vaccination," he said.

"Please people, let's be safe."

"Covid-19 has been an absolute beast across New Zealand and across the world, it's changed everything - how we saw the world and percieved it up until now."

He says if we want to enjoy the liberties of the world as we once knew it, there isn't a lot of option but to be vaccinated.

Baxter said he doesn't doubt there's a conversation happening behind the scenes as to whether the level 3 boundary should be extended.

While people may be tempted to enter the district during school holidays, Baxter wouldn't recommend it.

He would prefer for locals to stay put and visitors to stay away until they know exactly what is going on in the community.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs