6 May 2020

Iwi ponders continued use of checkpoint during alert level 2

5:34 pm on 6 May 2020

Despite the police commissioner making it clear community roadblocks should not continue in alert level 2, Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whānau ā Apanui has not ruled them out.

Rawiri Waititi announced the iwi will close tribal boundaries.

Iwi leader Rawiri Waititi says more discussions with hapū will be needed to decide if checkpoints should continue. Photo: Facebook / Te Whānau ā Apanui

Representatives from the iwi met with police this morning to discuss a plan to ensure their communities were protected.

But iwi leader Rawiri Waititi said further discussions with hapū would be needed to determine whether checkpoints should continue.

"We're going to our hapū chairs' meeting on Friday and we will have to take into consideration all the information from police, and also by our health advisors, our GPs and our DHB but we are steadfast on ensuring that the safety of our people and of our elderly is of the utmost importance to our iwi.

"This has been a coordinated approach and we need to ensure we have the ability and the processes to ensure that everybody is on the same track in terms of the decision we make once the country drops to level two but we will ensure that we continue a positive working relationship with the New Zealand police."

Waititi said the police had advised the iwi that level 2 would look a lot different in terms of their support.

"The police, however, are being respectful in terms of ensuring Te Whānau a Apanui have a chance to have those discussions amongst ourselves," he said.

"We'll put all of that information together and I'm sure we'll come up with a positive approach heading into level two."

One of several checkpoints along the East Coast's State Highway 35 to stop people travelling during the covid-19 outbreak

One of several checkpoints along the East Coast's State Highway 35 to stop people travelling during the Covid-19 outbreak. [File pic] Photo: supplied

Te Whānau a Apanui hasn't seen a single case of Covid-19 within its tribal boundary.

"We've been really, really happy with our efforts here and the response by the iwi, and I think many iwi and many communities around the country, have been exemplary. The coordinated response between iwi and our police has been really positive. The relationship has been a strong relationship and that continues today.

"But all those Te Whānau a Apanui whānau who moved to close the borders inspired many other small communities and iwi to do the same."

Police Commissioner Andy Coster said most of the checkpoints had been disestablished and those that were set up largely had some police presence.

"We discouraged the checkpoints, we felt that it was appropriate for police to do the policing, however, where communities determined they were going to do this we worked to ensure that, you know, freedom of movement was maintained.

"It's not a sustainable situation, and so when we were able to we stepped in to create a police presence at these locations and when police are there the checkpoints are lawful."

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