This is being written on Day 8 of the Level 4 lockdown, and what a tumultuous eight days it has been.
While every citizen grapples with their personal bubble, MPs and their electorate offices all around the country are incredibly busy addressing constituent needs and concerns. This busyness and increased workload is a privilege of being the elected voice of the community and the clearest route to central government.
The Whangārei MP office is working hard on a wide range of local issues, some of which I can share with you. Several Whangārei people stuck offshore - in places like Honduras, Peru, UK and the Falkland Islands - have contacted me.
Our task was Initially to work with Mfat to get them home as soon as possible but when the policy changed to "stay where you are and rest in place", the task changed to confirming their safety, registering with officials and maintaining communication.
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This morning I completed travel documentation for some young German exchange students staying in Whangārei so that their homestay parent could drive them to Auckland Airport for the German government repatriation flight later today.
Earlier in the week, it was travel documentation for a parent concerned that a family member may come to harm in Kerikeri.
There are a large number of queries around essential services and social distancing. My office has excellent designated communication with local police services and the government response team in Wellington, and it is frequently seeking clarity and confirmation of local issues.
Several calls about beach activities along our coast such as surfing have been made. Officials have made it clear that water-based beach activities are not acceptable and may put others at risk. Police are already stretched doing the great work that they do.
I want to suggest that we explore increasing the mandate of our marvellous honorary fishery officers to help monitor the coastline. They are already trained to appropriately deal with people in challenging situations - and they know the coastline. Honorary officers do have the ability to issue infringement notices but hopefully, advice and education are all that would be needed.
Our medical services are also working extremely hard at the moment and I applaud what they are doing. I have offered my registered medical practitioner services as a safety net to local GPs who may need a hand.
I am also interested in how Northland might be a lead-out region coming out of the lockdown.
We have some natural advantages. Northland is effectively a peninsula which could have a transport line drawn across it for monitoring freight and transport movements in and out. We have a relatively low level of infection with 11 cases to date. Now is a good time to be working on proposals to the government for how Northland could shift from Level 4 to level 3 as a lead-out region. I would be very interested to hear your ideas around what criteria would be necessary for Northland to safely change alert levels.