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Widespread Gratitude For Roadside Checkpoints

Non-Māori across the North Island have expressed their gratitude for roadside checkpoints organised by hapū and iwi to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“I’m very grateful for the checkpoints” says pākehā Maketu resident Bonnie Jackson. “The operators have been friendly and informative. They demonstrate that this community cares about its members, respects kaumātua and kuia, and helps educate people.”

The checkpoint at Maketu has been running since Saturday 4 April.

“It seems like there is widespread support, going by the number of volunteers and people contributing food and resources," says Jackson, who is immuno-compromised.

“I’m pleased that they are continuing to operate through Alert Level 3, as people lose vigilance. Maketu can’t afford to have a lot of people coming through.”

No cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Maketu, while the wider Western Bay of Plenty region has had 46 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19. This includes one in nearby Te Puke, which has prompted testing of 250 associated seasonal workers.

“It’s awesome that people are exercising their mana motuhake, it’s saving lives and has served entire communities well” says Danae Lee from lockdown in Whakatāne.

Experts have credited the checkpoints with reducing the spread of the virus. The Eastern Bay of Plenty region has had one case.

“I don’t think anyone knows how to respond to a crisis better than the hau kāinga, the home people. We’ve seen that time and again in this region, with the Edgecumbe flood and Whakaari eruption,” said Lee.

In Wharekāhika/Hicks Bay, resident Lloyd Lawson says the checkpoints there have also proved effective. “People are staying in their bubbles and have cut vehicle use to an absolute minimum.”

“The ultimate indicator of success is that we have had no Covid-19 infections within the Wharekāhika community. Same with the two neighbouring communities of Pōtaka and Te Araroa, who have also implemented checkpoints.”

“I applaud those who have organised and operated the checkpoints, day in day out, in all weathers. To say that your sense of duty and commitment to your community is admirable is an understatement,” said Lawson.

Kerry Abraham also praised the organisers. “As a non-Māori living in the isolated community of Pōtaka, I am so grateful for the safety provided by these checkpoints, operated by selfless volunteers. They remain vital to stopping the virus from devastating all the small communities along State Highway 35.”

Abraham noted that ever since Level 4 had been announced, “many people have tried to sneak up State Highway 35 in the middle of the night from regions that have high case numbers.”


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