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New group to sort future Covid borderland issues



thumbnail 4 MF-Covidagain1 copy-931JULIA WADE

Following the lockdown fiasco of February 15, which saw east-Kaipara’s Covid levels seesaw from two to three and back again, and causing mass confusion for businesses, schools and residents alike, a band of key people including Kaipara’s mayor, Dr John Smith, have teamed up to iron out the area’s borderlands.

“We’ve established a small group from government, iwi and myself to meet regularly and work on issues about checkpoint boundaries,” Smith says. “We can all expect more lockdowns in future, especially of Auckland, and so having improved engagement by government agencies and clear expectations in advance of such events is key.”

After last years August lockdown when Auckland went into level 3, where a 24/7 police checkpoint along Kaipara’s southern regional boundary left a number of Mangawhai and Tomarata residents locked out of their nearby shops and facilities, Smith described the actions as ‘a very large sledgehammer’ which did not take the community into account.

Along with Northland mayors, Far North’s John Carter and Whangarei’s Sheryl Mai, Smith wrote a ‘position statement’ asking central government to consider the Auckland and Kaipara ‘borderlands’ and surrounding communities in future lockdowns.

“We did receive replies from, and started conversations with, multiple government departments last year,” he says. “But now we’re going further than a letter.”

Exactly where the most convenient places for future checkpoints should be set up along the Kaipara/Auckland boundary, Smith says the council does not have ‘a position on this’ and he has never been asked.

“Certainly there would be pros and cons for each and every checkpoint/boundary location anyone could think of, and many differences of opinions. But for all Kaipara communities, I simply want as little disruption to as few people in any future Auckland lockdowns,” he says. “Our first meeting should be this week, and will include a debrief on what happened with the recent lockdown confusion and how we need better protocols in place for our people here for any future lockdowns. I look forward to sharing updates with the community as we progress this.”

The most recent lockdown saw confusion around Kaipara checkpoints and boundaries. PHOTO/JULIA WADE

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