28 Jan 2021

Waitangi Day: Māori Party leaders cancel commemoration plans in Te Tai Tokerau

7:07 pm on 28 January 2021

Māori Party leaders won't be travelling to Waitangi for commemorations of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi said they were taking a cautious approach and there was nothing more important than protecting whakapapa.

"There's a lot of uncertainty and we're related and connected to a lot of those whānau up there making real efforts to keep things contained and safe for them," Ngarewa-Packer said.

"It was an easy decision for us because we were always about whakapapa first, politics, second so for us it's the right thing to do to tautoko our whānau up there."

Ngarewa-Packer said Aotearoa was at greater risk than it had ever been of a significant outbreak.

"We've got a new strain of Covid that we've never had to contend with, for us as Māori it wasn't the first wave of the influenza epidemic that affected us, it was actually the second and the third, so what we see is a lot of unknowns.

"We're looking outside to the wider world, there has been absolute chaos with the way that communities and countries have been trying to respond to this."

She said the Ministry of Health was stone-walling at yesterday's press briefing, and were deliberately holding back information.

"What we seem to have is officials and Ministry of Health saying, 'we've got it under control, we've got it under control', yet everyday we've risen with another surprise.

"They haven't got it under control, and that's okay, it's new but they have to get it under control and I think that the reality is with what we're contending with it should be absolute caution.

"That was what we did the first time and that's what got us through it well, it doesn't seem to be the same sentiments this time."

In a statement, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said its track record spoke for its "openness and willingness" to provide information and answer questions.

"Just one measure of this has been the media stand-ups attended by the Ministry of Health about Covid-19 - there have been 158 to date.

"All cases are announced once confirmed, usually the following day though in some instances they are announced outside of the usual regular 1pm updates when there are new developments - as happened last night."

They said in addition, all this information was also publicly available on its website, and there were more regular updates on case numbers.

"Since the beginning of this year the ministry has distributed 25 media releases on Covid-19.

"The ministry's latest media release provides details about the genome sequencing of the two latest cases linked to the Pullman Hotel, the locations of interest that they visited, an update on testing in the community in Auckland, an update on the Northland case and the latest case numbers."

On the other hand, she said New Zealand needed to follow the Queensland model, where they had slowly reduced the number of returnees to 500 weekly.

"I think it needs to be reduced so that we can take some pressure off... it's not about stopping our whānau from coming home, it's about reducing and allowing the space for all those overseeing this response to reset."

"We're seeing everyone trying to do business-as-usual and that's not going to cut it."

Ngarewa-Packer condemned the decision by police to shut down a community checkpoint in Waiomio in Northland.

"We've got a huge risk of movement where people are going back to their holiday bachs and their boats and in the meantime, our whānau that live there that are largely under-resourced and underfunded have to wear the consequences of that movement.

"I think, the police, it's a shame they didn't do what they did during the first response."

Advice from the Ministry of Health:

  • The recent cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Northland have been linked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission.
  • The locations visited by the recent cases can be found on the Ministry of Health website
  • To help stamp out Covid-19, it's important the right people isolate and get tested
  • If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to: isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until you have a negative test result
  • If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested
  • If you were not at any of the locations of interest at the stated times, but you have symptoms, call Healthline for advice on 0800 358 5453
  • If you are going to get tested, remember you may have to queue. Please take food and water and continue to be kind to each other and our public health team
  • Everyone should continue to scan QR codes using the Covid Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on to help stop the spread of Covid-19

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