National | Aucklanders

Police will review Aucklanders fleeing Tāmaki after lockdown announcement

Photo / Michael Cunningham, NZME

Police will review the policies that saw Aucklanders flee Tāmaki for the far north ahead of the nationwide level four lockdown.

Speaking to Te Ao Māori news, Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha said he had heard the concerns of Northland iwi that their population had swelled and it posed a risk to the health system.

‘There certainly was an influx of people going into the North and we're conscious of that. It's something that we will discuss at the end of this,’ he told Te Ao Tapatahi.

Northland was kept in level 4 lockdown with Tāmaki until midnight Thursday amid fears Aucklanders who arrived during the 48 hour grace period instated by the government may have brought the city's outbreak with them.

Fears were also held the virus could have crossed into the region after a rest home worker in Warkworth, on the Tāmaki, Northland border, tested positive.

Wastewater tests cleared the region of that risk on Thursday, but fears by iwi leaders that an outbreak could devastate their rohe saw Tai Tokerau Border Control reinstate their checkpoint on State Highway 1 on Friday.

Tai Tokerau Border Control leaders, including former parliamentarian Hone Harawira, unsuccessfully lobbied politicians to keep Northland in lockdown with Tāmaki.

Haumaha threw police support behind iwi-led checkpoints but said compliance had been reasonable since the initial influx.

“Since the 48 hour window closed, things have gone pretty smoothly. People have been generally compliant in the north,” he said.

Māori are 50 percent more likely to die from Covid-19 and Friday a 90-year-old kuia from Northland was the first to pass away from the current outbreak.

Northland iwi are now getting inventive in their drive to get at-risk whānau vaccinated.

This week Ngāti Hine’s Health Trust announced mobile and walk-in vaccination clinics as well as spot prizes to address low vaccination rates.

"If we had a large influx of very ill people we would be really struggling, and that's what we are trying to prevent," Polly Brennan of the Ngāti Hine Health Trust says.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare has rejected claims by some Māori health leaders that the Māori vaccination programme has been a ‘failure’ but committed a $23 million shot in the arm for Whānau Ora healthcare providers to assist in the vaccine rollout on Thursday.

The money comes in addition to $39 million set aside in March for the Māori vaccination rollout.

Henare said the government was always looking at ways to support vaccination programmes across the motu.

The government recently established the toll-free 0800 28 29 26 Covid-19 vaccination healthline for those in remote areas or with limited internet access who are unable to make bookings on the website.