A Northland iwi group is keeping mum about when and where it plans to set up Covid checkpoints, saying it doesn't want to trigger a rush of people heading north before they're in place.
Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira said on Tuesday the group was going to resurrect the Covid-19 checkpoints set up during last year's lockdown because not enough was being done to protect Northland's most vulnerable people.
A checkpoint was reportedly going to start at Waiomio, on State Highway 1 south of Kawakawa, at 9am today.
However, Rueben Taipari, Tai Tokerau Border Control regional coordinator, would not confirm a time and place.
He said the group wanted to avoid a repeat of the Auckland lockdown when the Government announced a start time of noon on a Wednesday, sparking an exodus of motorists to Northland on Tuesday evening.
The group's aim was to reduce the amount of traffic travelling to the Far North through the area where the confirmed Covid-19 case had visited more than 30 locations before testing positive.
On Tuesday, police told the Advocate checkpoints were not needed in the current alert level and they expected they would not be set up.
Taipari, however, said police understood the group's motivation.
''Our intent is to keep our community safe. We have too many sick people, too many old people up here in the north to risk it.''
Ngāti Hine leader and Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene said he did not support checkpoints.
''I think the messages and the reasons for the checkpoints, about securing our borders, are the right messages — but we don't need [them] at this stage. Maybe if things ramp up in terms of community cases, but there's no reason to get everybody anxious by having checkpoints on our state highways.''
Tipene, who is also the interim chairman of Te Ruapekapeka Trust, said he was worried checkpoints would get in the way of people heading to Te Tai Tokerau for Waitangi Day and Battle of Ruapekapeka commemorations.
''We will be talking to police because we consider police, like any other Government agency, to be a Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner. So in terms of keeping our communities safe, we really do need to talk to police on this matter.''
Former Northland MP Matt King, who spoke out against checkpoints last year, said they were illegal unless police were actively involved and he would be ''appalled'' if the Government allowed them to go ahead.
''I understand the sentiment of the people running them but a lot of people got very upset and aggravated about the idea of civilians running checkpoints. When I was an MP a lot of people contacted me about it. The feeling against checkpoints was very strong, including from Māori people.''
King also questioned whether checkpoints were effective in stopping the virus.
Taipari, however, said the freedom New Zealanders had enjoyed so far this summer, with music festivals and the Six60 concert at Waitangi, was down to vigilance.
''If we contain the virus, and we do a good job of knocking it down, it will all be over in a week — instead of being locked down like Auckland for a month.''
Taipari said the group would relax once there was firm evidence the virus had not spread.
That meant no new cases for several days and no symptoms or positive tests among the case's close contacts.
''Until that time we're saying, don't come up here for Anniversary Weekend or Waitangi. Just stay home, isolate and take care of yourselves.''
Police have been asked how they will respond if checkpoints are set up, but had not responded by edition time.