13 Aug 2020

Iwi considers placing alert level 4 rules over rohe

7:09 pm on 13 August 2020

Leaders of Te Whānau a Apanui are considering placing alert level 4 restrictions over their rohe, including setting up checkpoints.

Iwi checkpoints were operating in the Far North on the night before the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Iwi checkpoint in the Far North during the nationwide lockdown in March. Photo: RNZ / Talei Anderson

Its 13 hapū are situated along the coastal strip between the Raukumara Range and the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Leader Rawiri Waititi, who is also a Māori Party candidate, said his people were meeting today to discuss their options.

"Level 4 will include community safe zones and checkpoints. It will also include many of our whānau moving back into bubbles, coordinated hunting and fishing efforts throughout the hapū, marae closures and all those types of things," he said.

Te Whānau a Apanui was one of the first iwi to erect checkpoints during the last lockdown, with volunteers questioning drivers at the tribal borders and turning anyone living outside the rohe away.

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Waititi said with cases continuing to rise again, his people would do everything in their power to keep the virus away.

"We will not gamble our people's lives, our pakeke and our most vulnerable at this time," he said.

"With the recent community transmission in Auckland, we don't know if we're dealing with the head of this taniwha or the tail. Our plea to people is, stay where you are."

Rawiri Waititi.

Rawiri Waititi. Photo: LDR / Supplied / Erica Sinclair Photography

He said whānau in the rohe were growing increasingly anxious.

"We've been given very little information and it's very unsettling," he said.

"We actually predicted that this was inevitable and we are ready to go again so watch this space."

Ngāti Whātua assists at Auckland checkpoints

Meanwhile, eight volunteers from Ngāti Whātua will assist police at the five northern checkpoints in Auckland from tomorrow, and numbers will double if lockdown is extended.

Their job will include helping to question drives, and handing out pamphlets with health and safety information.

Co-ordinator Boyd Broughton said their efforts would need to be ramped up if lockdown was extended.

"If lockdown extends further than tomorrow then we will look at getting more whānau and volunteers," he said.

"We are looking to perhaps housing them away from their whānau, probably set them up at a marae, so that they are isolated from everybody."

Broughton said it was important iwi in Auckland help out their whanaunga in the north by preventing as many people as they could from driving there when they shouldn't be.

"If we can do a really good job of keeping Covid out of the north from here, it lessens the workload on our whānau in Te Tai Tokerau," he said.

"Our volunteers are fit and young and healthy and good communicators because we want them to be able to do the job with a smile."

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