Sixty-seven per cent of Northland's local government politicians can be confirmed to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 – as the region's first Omicron community cases arrive.
Local Democracy Reporting/the Northern Advocate sought to confirm the vaccination for all Northland's 61 publicly-elected local government representatives across four councils and three community boards.
But it has been able to do so for only 41 out of 61 elected representatives or 67 per cent.
All the 41 Northland local government politicians whose vaccination status can be confirmed are fully vaccinated, many with booster shots too.
Northland's ratepayer-funded and publicly-elected local government politicians represent four councils and three community boards. Councillors helm the governance of Far North District Council (FNDC), Kaipara District Council (KDC), Whangārei District Council (WDC) and Northland Regional Council (NRC) with more than 1000 staff between them.
The vaccination status for 20 of these leaders has not yet been confirmed.
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said it strongly encouraged its members, as community leaders, to follow public policy advice around Covid-19 such as getting vaccinated and boosted.
Local Democracy Reporting/the Northern Advocate sought vaccination status information from the sector, made up of key community local political leaders.
It sought the information as part of the region's ongoing push towards reaching at least the 90 per cent double vaccinated milestone. Northland is one of only three district health boards, out of 20 nationally, still to reach that figure.
Former Whangārei District councillor Robin Lieffering said it should not be difficult for residents and ratepayers wanting to know vaccination status of councillors and community board members.
Ratepayers deserved to know whether those they elected were vaccinated, she said.
Northland's three mayors can be confirmed as at least double vaccinated.
Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith has confirmed he will get his booster when he becomes eligible. Far North Acting Mayor Ann Court has confirmed she is double vaccinated and will be getting her booster later this month.
NRC has refused to provide information on councillor vaccination numbers and/or status – including whether representatives are unvaccinated.
Local Democracy Reporting/the Northern Advocate can confirm that across the four councils, 30 of 42 councillors are fully vaccinated.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said 12 of her 13 councillors had last week indicated to her they were fully vaccinated, with one exercising the right not to reveal their vaccination status. Mai did not specify any names.
"Eight councillors were triple-vaccinated, four double-vaccinated and one withheld vaccination status information as was their right," Mai said.
She said councillor Covid-19 vaccinations had not been mandated by the Government, hence there was no legal requirement for elected representatives to disclose their vaccination status. It had, as a result, made no official record of this.
"As a democratic organisation, we also hold that personal choice must be respected where there is no mandate. We will continue to use masks when meeting in person, hold meetings online when necessary and advocate to our community to follow government guidelines as they evolve," Mai said.
Local Democracy/Northern Advocate can confirm WDC's Mai, Deputy Mayor Greg Innes, Gavin Benney, Ken Couper, Shelley Deeming, Phil Halse, Carol Peters, Simon Reid and Vince Cocurullo are all at least double vaccinated with a number also having booster shots.
It can also be confirmed FNDC's Mayor John Carter, Deputy Mayor Ann Court, David Clendon, Mate Radich, Rachel Smith, Kelly Stratford, Moko Tepania and John Vujcich are also all double vaccinated with booster shots on board or on the agenda upon eligibility.
Also confirmed at least double vaccinated with a number also having booster shots or doing so upon becoming eligible are KDC's Mayor Smith, Deputy Mayor Anna Curnow, Jonathan Larsen, Karen Joyce-Paki, Mark Vincent, David Wells, Peter Wethey and Eryn Wilson-Collins.
NRC chairwoman Penny Smart did not specify how many of her councillors among deputy chairman Justin Blaikie, Terry Archer, Jack Craw, Colin "Toss" Kitchen, Amy Macdonald, Marty Robinson, Rick Stolwerk and Joce Yeoman were fully vaccinated - or unvaccinated. She has not specified this information when previously approached by Local Democracy/Northern Advocate either. Local Democracy/Northern Advocate can confirm Kitchen, who is also a veteran firefighter, is fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Local Democracy/Northern Advocate can confirm that of 19 non-councillor representatives on FNDC's three community boards - Bay of Islands/Whangaroa, Kaikohe/Hokianga and Te Hiku – 11 are at least double vaccinated with booster shots for almost all.
The entire Te HIku Community Board are fully vaccinated. Adele Gardner (chairwoman), Jaqi Brown (deputy chairwoman), Darren Axe, Sheryl Bainbridge, John Stewart and Bill Subritzky are all at least double vaccinated with booster shots on board or pending the norm.
Axe, the board's North Cape representative from Pukenui, said everybody should be getting two vaccination shots and a booster.
For Kaikohe/Hokianga Community Board's one person can be confirmed as fully vaccinated out of its six elected non-councillor members. Deputy chairwoman Emma Davis (Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao), and North Hokianga representative, is triple vaccinated.
She was the only non-councillor representative to respond.
"It would hope everybody gets vaccinated. It's important, to look after our babies," Davis said.
For Bay of Islands/Whangaroa Community Board members four out of seven non-councillor members responded to Local Democracy/Northern Advocate inquiries. The respondents are all at least double vaccinated, with additional booster shot the norm for chairwoman Belinda Ward, Layne Ayr, Manuela Gmuer-Hornell and Bruce Mills.