Unvaccinated Far North residents are being urged to get their first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine this week in order to be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
Uptake of the Pfizer vaccine (which requires a minimum of three weeks between each shot) is strongly encouraged for those yet to receive their first jab, in order to protect themselves once Northland's borders open on December 15.
From that date forward, fully vaccinated people (and unvaccinated people who test negative for Covid-19 72 hours prior to departure) will be able to travel across the Auckland border freely.
As a result, an influx of people from Auckland and beyond are expected to travel to Northland for Christmas once restrictions ease.
Figures released by holiday home management company Bachcare last week showed baches and holiday homes at various popular Northland locations were already booked out for Christmas.
Bachcare spokeswoman Zaina Razzaq said Aucklanders were the single largest source of revenue for most domestic travel and tourism industries at the moment.
"We know the signals from the Government provided increased levels of confidence that Aucklanders would be able to travel at Christmas and as a result, we have seen a surge in the number of bookings over the past week."
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) also announced 12 district health boards had passed the 90 per cent first-dose milestone.
On November 29 the Prime Minister is expected to announce the country will shift into the Covid-19 Protection Framework or "traffic light system".
The new framework will operate on the basis of moving away from the process of elimination to suppression and will allow more freedoms for those who are fully vaccinated.
As of mid-morning Sunday, the MoH also reported more than one million people had successfully downloaded the My Vaccine Pass, suggesting many were planning to travel over the Christmas period.
According to MoH, the system was operating smoothly and capacity had been increased, and the ministry was encouraging people to visit MyCovidRecord.health.nz to get their My Vaccine Pass in time for summer.
On a national vaccination scale, the Far North is currently placed 61st , with just 68.5 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, 11.6 per cent having one dose and 19.9 per cent unvaccinated.
According to the Far North District Council, once borders open, police and iwi will undertake spot checks rather than stop all vehicles once travel restrictions have eased.
Far North iwi and community leaders have voiced their concerns regarding the border opening before Māori vaccination rates had reached 90 per cent fully vaccinated.
Te Kahu O Taonui- Northland iwi leaders released a statement last week calling for borders to remain shut until Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) had reached the important vaccination milestone.
"We have grave concerns with the opening of the Northern border to Aucklanders on December 15 as our communities are still vulnerable knowing we have yet to reach the 90 per cent vaccination rate that Auckland has," Ngāi Takoto Iwi chairman Wallace Rivers said.
Professor Mākere Mutu, chairwoman of Ngāti Kahu and an Auckland resident, said it was not the responsibility of Te Kahu o Taonui to check people's vaccination status and that Tai Tokerau was not prepared to be the collateral damage.
"You might as well send body bags," Mutu said.
Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira agreed the decision to allow Covid-19 to travel out of Auckland from December 15 would have devastating consequences for the people of Tai Tokerau.
"Tai Tokerau Māori live in some of the most under-invested and deprived communities in New Zealand, with poor housing standards and long state housing waiting lists," Harawira said.
"Poverty and unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and suicide were already at excessively high levels before Covid-19 and today, those indicators are even higher as whānau struggle with the frustration of even greater levels of hardship.
"A lack of access to resources and an inequitable health system mean Māori suffer disproportionately from medical conditions that are natural breeding grounds for Covid-19.
"Covid-19 cases are climbing daily, and the Government's refusal to allow Māori Health Providers access to critical medical data means whānau, hapū and iwi are facing a summer from hell as frustrated Aucklanders come rollicking through Tai Tokerau."
Harawira confirmed Tai Tokerau Border Control would be working with local authorities, health authorities, police and iwi to try to minimise the spread and impact of Covid-19 in the north.
Four new cases of Covid-19 in Northland were recorded yesterday, taking the total of the current Northland outbreak to 68 cases.
There are currently four new cases in Kaitaia, Whangārei (including Onerahi, Bream Bay and Hikurangi), Kaikohe, and Dargaville.
One new case in isolation in Whangārei- a border worker currently unlinked to an existing case. Three new cases are isolating in Kaikohe and are linked to an existing case.
The Public Health team is undertaking interviews to identify any locations of interest and to establish any link between the Whangārei case and an existing case.
Of the total 68 cases, 27 cases are active, with 26 people in home isolation and one in Whangārei Hospital.
Forty-one cases have been released from isolation and one person remains in Whangārei Hospital in a stable condition.
Locations of Interest
There have been two new locations of interest identified in the past 24 hours. If you have visited a location of interest on the date and at the time specified, you should self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days after you were exposed at this site.
If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result and until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
Kaikohe: Thomas's Fish Shop, 74 Broadway, Friday 12 November, 3pm-4pm
Kerikeri: Subway Kerikeri, 9 Cobham Rd, Friday 12 November, 12pm-1pm
If you have cold or flu symptoms, please stay home and get tested.
Kaitaia - Kaitaia Hospital, 9am-2pm
Hokianga - Rawene Hospital, 9am-2pm
Whangārei - 20 Winger Cres, Kamo, 9am-4pm
Dargaville - Dargaville Hospital, 9am-4pm
Kerikeri - 15 Sammaree Pl, 9am-2pm
Ruakaka - Ruakaka Race Course, Peter Snell Rd, Ruakaka, 9am-2pm
To find a list of Northland Vaccination Clinics, visit: www.northlanddhb.org.nz/home/covid-19/northland-vaccination-clinics/
To find a testing clinic near you, visit: www.northlanddhb.org.nz/home/covid-19/northland-testing-locations/