Following New Zealand’s segue into a second national lockdown, the ‘frayed edges’ of east Kaipara’s borders have been underlined by Northland mayors as requiring some decisive deliberation.
Since Auckland was set at level 3 status with the remainder of the country at level 2, east Kaipara has been witness to unprecedented scenes with a number of Mangawhai and Tomorata residents locked out of their nearby shops and facilities, and a 24/7 crew of police and army officers guarding the district’s southern border, causing travel delays and traffic queues.
With the recent government announcement to align Auckland’s restriction level with other regions on August 31, Northland will be able to reconnect with the rest of the country, bringing relief to many. However with Covid-19 being classed by the government as a ‘tricky virus’, the potential for the region – and particularly Kaipara – to be locked out again in any future lockdown, was the main topic of discussion at the Northland Mayoral Forum (NMF) on August 24, NMF chair and Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith says.
“Everyone’s safety is the number one priority… however, the issues around the Auckland and Kaipara perimeter, which have been particularly felt in the Mangawhai/Kaiwaka communities, need to be addressed and fixed.”
Police and military were required by law to set up checkpoints along Auckland’s regional boundaries – which included Black Swamp, Coal Hill, Cames and Ryans Roads, as well as State Highway 1, north of Te Hana – disadvantaging many who lived on the Auckland side of Kaipara by being denied access into Mangawhai as well as adversely affecting local businesses, trade and even students trying to get to school.
“It was a very large sledgehammer that has been used and has not taken into account how the community works,” he says. “There have been a lot of challenges for the Mangawhai/Kaiwaka communities which is not fair because these areas are in level 2 and should be operating like Dargaville but they’re not, that’s why I’ve called it level 2.5, we’re cut off, it’s not a good story.”
Northland mayors – Far North’s John Carter, Whangarei’s Sheryl Mai and Smith – have developed a ‘position statement’ requesting central government to consider the Auckland and Kaipara ‘borderlands’ and the communities residing around the perimeter, as well as a safe passage through Auckland enabling people to travel north and south ‘so people can drive right through to Hamilton’.
The mayors are also asking the government to bring more clarity to Kaipara’s ‘frayed edge’ boundaries in regard to the various government departments who work between Mangawhai, Kaiwaka, Maungaturoto and Wellsford. Currently services such as the police, Ministry of Social Development, St John and Kaipara council, all have different operating levels and perimeters and Smith says people in Mangawhai and Kaiwaka are missing out which ‘isn’t good enough’.
“Auckland is a city region with many layers so what’s happening at the edges? We need to understand our communities, how they work and the people in the community need to be well served.
“The only people who can fix it is central government so we will be communicating with their key regional public service personnel very quickly,” he says. “It is always possible that the current lockdown may be extended further or we may be going back into lockdown in the future, so government need to focus here and give the people of these communities some real solutions.”
Locals locked out in lockdown: Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith, along with Northland’s mayors, are calling on the government to consider the ‘borderlands’ of Kaipara and Auckland especially in regard to any potential future lockdowns.