A day into the new border-check regime, and before the long holiday queues have even begun, iwi are unhappy police are not checking all vehicles entering Northland.
Just five cars were turned around at the police and iwi checkpoint along State Highway 1 at Uretiti between 8.15am and 11am yesterday while a motorcyclist who neither had a vaccine pass nor a negative Covid test result was turned around on SH12 at Maungaturoto.
He was heading into Maungaturoto about 12.30pm yesterday.
Police officers from Dunedin, Christchurch, Tasman, Wellington, and Auckland have been brought to Northland to man the two checkpoints which ran smoothly as traffic was steady from when the borders opened at midnight Tuesday until early afternoon yesterday.
Recruits from the Royal New Zealand Police College are also helping out.
Delivery trucks and service vehicles were waived through the checkpoints to keep queues to a minimum.
Tai Tokerau Border Control (TTBC) regional co-ordinator Rueben Taipari said the fact police were not checking every vehicle heading north at Uretiti was a 'massive concern' for his volunteers.
"There are too many cars going through that I believe should be processed that are getting past us and that's because police control the checkpoint and we can't really challenge them on that.
"That's what our people wanted us to do, check everybody coming through, a little bit of a delay doesn't hurt anybody. If you're coming back here for weeks into our communities, just respect our wishes, we want to have a safe holiday with everybody and it's a very simple 30-second process," Taipari said.
He said he could not go home with full confidence and say to his whanau he has stopped everybody and checked their health.
But police Far North area commander Inspector Riki Whiu said it was not possible to stop every motorist due to concerns about traffic flow and safety.
Every car was being checked in the wee hours of the morning yesterday as the number of vehicles heading north at Uretiti was low and police had the capacity to do so.
Northland police district commander Tony Hill told Newstalk ZB's Mike Yardley yesterday morning it would be ideal if officers could check every car coming out of Auckland but as they got busy, they would see how that went.
Taipari said TTBC has been running statistics and surveys and have not had many turnarounds.
"For the thousands that have come here, only four got turned around, had a few anti-vaxxers here this morning (Wednesday) but on the whole, everybody has been great."
The checkpoints at Uretiti and Maungaturoto will run until Monday next week and would then change to roving checkpoints, especially in communities packed with holidaymakers.
Of the 908 vehicles that passed through the Uretiti checkpoint between 8.15am and 11am yesterday, five cars were turned around and about 250 were locals.
Figures on the other checkpoint were unavailable but Sergeant Andrew Glendinning, who was among about a dozen police officers checking vehicles on SH12, said there had been a steady flow of traffic and that motorists have been compliant.
Wellington student Olive Redman, 21, was not even checked on her way from Whangaparaoa to her boyfriend's parents' house at Maungatapere early yesterday.
"Everyone has been talking about how the iwi would be stringent at the checkpoints. I don't understand what the hoo ha was about. I thought I'd be waiting in traffic for two and a half hours and all up four hours to get to Maungatapere."
She passed Uretiti about 7.30am and got waved at.
Police and TTBC are joined by hapū iwi collective of Patuharakeke, Te Parawhau and Ngātiwai at Uretiti while Te Uri o Hau and Ngāti Whātua are helping out at the checkpoint in Maungaturoto.
"Vaccination remains a top priority in our work as iwi, alongside the District Health Board, primary care and Māori providers we continue to focus on acceleration of vaccination rates, we will maintain this work over the summer period" Ngātiwai Trust Board chairman Aperahama Edwards said.
Patuharakeke Trust chairwoman Deborah Harding encouraged whānau and those travelling into Northland for holidays to ensure they have either had a Covid test or were double vaxxed to enable quick travel through borders.
Iwi representatives volunteering at the checkpoints have been vetted by police and provided with training on their roles.
Only police have the power to stop vehicles and issue infringement notices.
All of New Zealand, except Northland, will move to orange under the government's traffic light system from December 30.