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Iwi Chairs Welcome Clarity Of Police Powers

The National Iwi Chairs Forum welcomes the further clarity and guidance on Alert Level 4 rules during lockdown, issued by Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield over the weekend.

Speaking from the Wellington base of the National Iwi Chairs Forums newly activated Pandemic Response Group (PRG), Chair Mike Smith says,

‘The 701F notice, issued under the Health Act 1956 is very clear about what people can and can't do while in isolation. We have been concerned that prior to this clarification, people were making their own interpretation on what forms of recreational activities were acceptable’

The clarification also gives an expectation of what powers the New Zealand Police have in order to enforce the Alert Level 4 rules.

‘We support the fact that this further empowers the police to take greater action to ensure compliance by the public,’ says Smith, ‘while we support Ngāti Porou requesting a military presence in their region, we acknowledge that in other areas, the presence of the New Zealand Police will be enough to ensure that the rules are being followed’

Some iwi are still reporting late night travel under cover of dark, particularly in tourist regions. Of equal concern, are the large numbers of people gathering in urban areas at popular exercise hotspots like outdoor basketball courts and jogging paths.

‘It is alarming to still see the high number of people who continue to flout quarantine rules. If people continue with this behaviour, it will increase the likelihood of community transmission, says Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Kaiarataki Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui.

‘We are aware there is no Plan B. It is unfortunate that stronger enforcement is the only way to guarantee containment, but too many people are still not taking this as seriously as they need to’

Statistics are showing that it is not Māori people who are transmitting the COVID-19 virus at this stage.

‘The Ministry of Health data now reveals where the largest numbers of confirmed cases are, what the age group is and other details,’ says Lisa Tumahai, Kaiwhakahaere Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

‘While it is not Māori people currently transmitting the COVID-19 virus, we still want to encourage all whānau Māori to stick to the lockdown to help save Māori lives. Our risk is greater than most of the general population. The last thing anyone of us would want to do is be the person that infects all of our own whanau.’

The National Iwi Chairs Forum established the Pandemic Response Group to provide a collaborative platform for iwi and Māori groups to elevate critical needs to urgent decision making during the pandemic.

© Scoop Media

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