Hapū Re-establish Covid-19 Checkpoint In Ngāti Porou
Hapū from the north of Ngāti Porou in the East Cape have re-established a checkpoint in an effort to protect themselves from COVID.
Matakaoa Covid-19 response spokeswoman Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says that the checkpoint is necessary because the current measures being undertaken by police have not been successful in reducing the traffic, and that in spite of the delta variant creating increased risk, the police have offered less protection than in the 2020 lockdown.
“We have worked closely with police over the past week, providing community assistants to the mobile checkpoints. The police that have been sent here to Wharekahika and Te Araroa from other regions have been very supportive and professional, however we have asked for static checkpoints to control the flow of traffic, and so far, at a regional and national level, that is being refused.”
Last week, acting Minister for Emergency Management Kris Faafoi, acting on advice from the local emergency management controller David Wilson, rejected a written request from 32 Ngati Porou hapū asking for a regional state of emergency and static checkpoints.
“We have given emergency services every opportunity to try and bring the risk levels down for our whānau and they’ve not been effective. We have tried to communicate this to council, the emergency controller, and central government and our voices are being ignored, so we are left with no choice but to put these protections in, ourselves” says Ms Pahuru-Huriwai “We see this as a failure from local and national government to live up to the numerous commitments they have made over this past year to work closely with communities in combatting covid-19”.
Data from the mobile checkpoints has been released by the hapū, showing a marked increase in traffic levels compared to the same timeframe in the 2020 lockdown, when static checkpoints were in place.
“Whereas last year we were able to get traffic flows down to about 4 or 5 cars per hour, now we are averaging 23 cars per hour. Our local whānau are also noticing a lot of strange cars and unknown people in town, and police checkpoints have stopped cars coming into our communities from as far away as Waikato. We are also seeing that when the mobile checkpoints pack up and move on to the next spot, the traffic increases even more, so the true number will actually be much more than 23 per hour”.
Police have cited a lack in resourcing and legislative constraints as the reason why they are not able to establish the requested checkpoints as per 2020.
“We understand this, but we cannot be expected to risk our safety because of it. We must and will do what is necessary to keep our whanau safe from the extraordinary risk presented by the delta variant”.