17 Aug 2020

Far North community checkpoints considered to keep Covid-19 out

11:17 am on 17 August 2020

The group that imposed a lockdown of the Far North in March and April says it is alarmed at the number of people who seem to have left Auckland for Northland.

Former MP Hone Harawira organised the Far North Covid-19 checkpoint.

Hone Harawira from Tai Tokerau Border Control. Photo: RNZ / Talei Anderson

Tai Tokerau Border Control says the police and the army are doing a good job but are being too accommodating and should be turning more people away.

Spokesperson Hone Harawira said a traffic jam out of Auckland to Northland on the day the level 3 lockdown was announced was as bad as Christmas.

He told Morning Report the group was alarmed to learn more than 50,000 vehicles had been let through checkpoints heading south or north of Auckland since Wednesday 12 August.

"We went down to the checkpoint in Wellsford and we were just horrified at how relaxed things were."

He said the group was now working with the police checking different areas and camping grounds.

"We're getting reports from shops about people calling in to do shopping who are not local and who have just come from somewhere else. We've all been able to identify tourists who have been here for some time ... they're not an issue.

"We're close to standing up a checkpoint."

His message was for people to stay safe and wear masks.

"We're really worried about people who say this is a hoax. It's not a hoax."

Harawira said three-quarters of a million people had died globally from the virus and he was glad it was not as bad in New Zealand.

Community calls for lockdown in Ruapehu

In central North Island, Ngāti Rangi are asking visitors to stay away from the Ruapehu area following reports that a Covid positive case from Auckland visited Tūroa and Whakapapa ski areas about 9 August.

Ngāti Rangi chair Whetu Moataane told Morning Report the safety of the community was a priority.

"We want to have this conversation with council and the Whanganui DHB to consider a region lockdown," he said.

He is asking for a level 3 lockdown for the Ohakune region.

"We want this to be a collaborative approach with iwi, council, DHB and more importantly with police."

Moataane said businesses were worried for two reasons: about scarce information on the family's itinerary through the town, and the economic impact of the lockdown.

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