20 Dec 2021

Covid-19: Northland police move to mobile patrols, spot checkpoints for visitors

12:48 pm on 20 December 2021

Mobile patrols and a possible new state highway checkpoint over the New Year should help keep Northland safe from Covid-19, Te Tai Tokerau Border Control's regional coordinator says.

Northland is one of the least vaccinated parts of the country with 88 percent first doses among the eligible population and 82 percent doses. Just over 12,000 people need a second dose before the region can hit the 90 percent fully vaccinated mark.

Police with iwi support at a checkpoint on SH1 at Uretiti. It is one of two new short-term checkpoints for northbound traffic set up as the Auckland region boundary opened.

Northland police, local iwi and Te Tai Tokerau Border Control are worked together at checkpoints. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone 

From today police are moving from fixed checkpoints on State Highway 1 at Uretiti and SH12 near Maungaturoto to random checkpoints and roving patrols across the district.

Police, with iwi and Te Tai Tokerau Border Control, operated short-term controlled checkpoints south of Whangārei when Auckland's Covid-19 boundaries were disbanded on 15 December.

The focus was now around communities most at risk and popular tourist hotspots to ensure those travelling in to the region had followed the Covid-19 protection framework rules, police said.

Te Tai Tokerau Border Control regional coordinator Reuben Taipari said the vast majority of motorists spoken to at the state highway checkpoints had been fully vaccinated or had tested negative.

"We believe if we can keep that campaign going we'll have a good safe summer," Taipari said.

"We also still have an agreement with police to hold another checkpoint border in Uretiti at some other point, and we're looking at the New Years traffic to emphasise that and make sure that campaign is still alive and well during the holidays."

Taipari said Te Tai Tokerau Border Control would be working out where it fitted in to the strategy.

"It's never as effective as having a checkpoint on State Highway 1, that's the best way that you could possibly do," he said.

"We have participated in these particular strategies previously, the tactics around mobile patrols, for the last twenty months so we do know how they work. We can participate in them if we need to.

"If we go back home into our kāinga, though, if the situation becomes dire and we feel we aren't being properly protected in our local communities, we will stand in our local community roads."

"We have to be notified by them on what their patrols are, but we do work with them and designate teams together to work at certain locations at certain times, which is dictated by traffic, just to let everybody know that we are vigilant and to keep that campaign message out there about good safe behaviour, Covid is real and that we need to be vigilant."

Northland police, with the help of additional resources provided from outside the region, would run the patrols in the Whangārei/Kaipara region, mid-Northland and the Far North.

"We want to reassure our communities right across Northland that police have plans in place to monitor ongoing compliance of those travelling into Northland," Superintendent Tony Hill said.

Motorists in Northland could expect to be stopped at any time and may be asked to provide proof of address, Superintendent Tony Hill said.

Those found to have travelled into Northland from Auckland without following the restrictions - being fully vaccinated or having had a negative Covid-19 test result in the past 72 hours - could be fined.

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