Amid mixed response to a Whirinaki forest rāhui, one tourism operator says people should think less about themselves.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whare invoked a rāhui late last week in an attempt to protect its low-vaccinated communities.
Compliance with the rāhui was a matter of respect to its perspectives and cultural practices as kaitiaki of the area, it said.
Just over half of nearby Murupara was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The move was supported by the Department of Conservation, which updated its website and information on the park on Monday to include the new information on the Whirinaki Te Pua a Tāne Conservation Park.
It would be in place from December 17 until January 31.
Ngāti Whare chief executive Mere George explained earlier in the week response had been "overwhelmingly positive" from neighbouring iwi and concessionaires, but less so from those outside the local area.
She said it had even moved into the realm of abuse and racism.
For Foris Eco-Tours director Tom Lynch, safety was the number one priority, as was included in its operations plan.
"What Ngāti Whare is doing with the low vaccination rates there is essentially a duty of care that we would demonstrate for our manuhiri."
He said the reality for him was that most of those visitors would typically come from overseas.
"It's an easy decision for us to tautoko Ngāti Whare's decision. Personally, I don't want to be sitting in a car for three hours when my 11-year-old daughter has yet to be vaccinated."
These were unprecedented times, he said.
"We need to be thinking about more than ourselves."
National Party spokesman for tourism Todd McClay issued a press release yesterday in which he said the government support of the rāhui was a kick in the teeth for tourism businesses.
"Telling businesses to cancel bookings and turn away customers during a normally busy summer period will push these small businesses closer to failure. Local businesses will be left to bear the cost of restrictions, and many will consider whether to remain open."
Department of Conservation acting operations deputy director-general Steve Taylor said full refunds were being processed for anyone who had a booking at the Whirinaki Recreation Camp through to the end of January.
While he could not give specifics on how many people had booked, the camp was the only bookable facility in Whirinaki Te Pua a Tāne.
"It accommodates up to 30 people but the facility is treated as a sole occupancy booking so we only see the name of the person who booked it and do not know how many may be in the party.
"There are nine back-country huts in the park which cater for a maximum 100 people."
Staff had spoken to everyone who had a booking, he said.
There are also 20 concessions to operate in the park, and these had been contacted.
"We simply advised them of the rāhui and did not enter into discussion about what their response would be."
He explained rāhui are invoked two or three times a year across conservation land and waters.
"Most commonly this is, sadly, following a fatality."
The department had a mandatory vaccination policy for all visitors to its campsites and huts, and complied with the Government's traffic light system.
"The department's vaccination policy should provide increased levels of reassurance to both communities and visitors, while reducing the risk of transmission."
It may also put restrictions in place or close facilities at Red or Orange under the traffic light system where the public health risks are deemed high and are not easily mitigated, he said.
Not all were on the same page, however.
A spokesperson for Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said the traffic light system was designed to provide appropriate management of Covid-19 across all of New Zealand.
"There is a requirement that all users of DoC campsites and huts aged 12 and over be vaccinated. That is in place to provide increased levels of reassurance to both communities and visitors, while reducing the risk of transmission."
Allan was therefore opposed to any closures of access to public conservation land under the current traffic light system.
"The decision to invoke a rāhui was not something she would be involved in."
Tourism Bay of Plenty was approached for comment.