A multi-agency working group is being established to prevent repeats of recent issues along the Northland/Auckland border during regional lockdowns.
The group will be a partnership between Kaipara District Council, Ngāti Whātua, New Zealand Police and central Government agencies such as the Covid-19 Group, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Health.
The group, which would meet next week, was formed to combat the tension experienced by many in Kaipara on Monday when border checkpoints were introduced after a Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.
Northland was in alert level 2, but checkpoints in Maungaturoto and north of Mangawhai effectively cut Kaipara district in half - and many schools and businesses were unsure if they were included in Auckland's alert level 3 boundary.
The checkpoints were moved at 6pm that day to the positions used during Auckland's Auckland lockdown. These locations included Te Hana and south of Mangawhai.
On Tuesday, Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith told the Northern Advocate the decision to reinstate last year's checkpoint locations was a mistake by central Government, given the issues experienced - similar to those on Monday.
After last year's issues, the Northland Mayoral Forum wrote to central Government requesting a better solution. Reinstating the checkpoints, Smith - the forum's chair - said, ignored their concerns.
Speaking to the Northern Advocate yesterday, Smith said he had not heard from any Kaipara locals of any issues caused by the checkpoints since Monday.
However, Smith believed the new group was necessary to advocate for Northlanders near the Auckland border and ensure people were aware come any future lockdowns.
"New Zealand is still in a pandemic and we've seen in these borderlands, issues come through again and again," he said.
"We've got a hot zone so it deserves better attention."
Smith hoped the diverse group could construct protocol for border control so people could plan.
"It's oversimplifying it to say that we can guarantee that everything will be perfect from here.
"What I can guarantee is there will be really good communication from here and there won't be the surprises."
One tool Smith hoped to utilise to deliver such communication was the council's Antenno app, which sent council updates, such as office closures and emergency information, to your phone.
Currently, 485 of 23,000 Kaipara locals had downloaded the app, which had been in operation for just over a year.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua chief operating officer Antony Thompson supported the group's kaupapa.
"The important thing for Ngāti Whātua is we're having good, honest discussion and we move forward."
Thompson said it was likely representatives from Ngāti Whātua and hapū Te Uri-o-Hau would feature on the group.
He believed one key addition to the border was a Ministry of Health official, who could provide real-time assistance to police and iwi members conversing with travellers.