23 Apr 2020

Iwi checkpoints credited for Te Whānau a Apanui's zero Covid-19 cases

5:55 pm on 23 April 2020

Te Whānau a Apanui have no Covid-19 cases within their rohe and iwi-led checkpoints are being credited for the result.

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Photo: 123rf.com

There have been calls from the National Party for clarity of the legality of checkpoints - which are being run in Te Tai Tokerau, Te Tairāwhiti and some other rural areas.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she believes they are acting within the law and is comfortable with them.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says although the police do not encourage community checkpoints they will continue to work in partnership with local authorities, iwi and community groups to assess whether they are needed.

He said he didn't expect any being run when the country moved to alert level 2.

Police Minister Stuart Nash told Midday Report that he believed they were illegal unless run by police.

Since the country went in to lockdown under alert level four, Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi, Te Whānau a Apanui, was working prior to that to implement checkpoints at Pōtikirua to Te Taumata o Apanui.

Rawiri Waititi, alongside iwi leaders, worked with their communities and local authorities to set up 'Community Safe Zones'.

He said he was unsure why questions had been raised about their legality and welcomed people who thought they were illegal to show him how they thought they are breaking the law.

He said with police, volunteers and local authorities they have been running successfully.

"We have had police presence and they continue to work alongside Te Whānau a Apanui to ensure that what we are doing is safe but is also done in collaboration and is a coordinated effort. This is a local response to a pandemic and I think it is a response that's leading the country and the most tangible measure that we have at the moment is that there is no Covid-19 in Te Whānau a Apanui," Waititi said.

Waititi said there had been an outpouring of support from the whole community and they would continue to run them after alert level 4.

"We are going continue to operate our borders at the levels that they have been at the last 4 weeks until we deem it is safe for our iwi to drop to the levels that have been outlined in the alert levels that the government has come out with."

Meanwhile, other checkpoints in Te Tairāwhiti continue to run - as well in Te Tai Tokerau with police support.

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