Northland police will be out on the water all Easter weekend to make sure boaties heed instructions to stay home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Police patrols started on Thursday and are focusing on Whangārei Harbour, the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa but will be able to respond to all points between.

Vessels operated by the Northland Regional Council harbourmaster will be used with police on board in case any enforcement powers are required.

The harbourmaster vessel Waikare will be one of the boats patrolling the region's waters this weekend. PICTURE / John Stone
The harbourmaster vessel Waikare will be one of the boats patrolling the region's waters this weekend. PICTURE / John Stone

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Customs officers will also be on the water with a particular focus on Opua, Northland's main entry point for international vessels.

Sergeant Andrew Ivey, of Northland police, said the operation would be a mix of proactive patrols and responding to reports of boats on the water.

Although the focus would be on education rather than enforcement, police did have the power to charge people who failed to follow requirements.

Those powers came from the Health Act and the Civil Defence Act under the state of emergency.

The region's top cop, Superintendent Tony Hill, said Northland was traditionally a destination for people looking to head away for Easter weekend — but this year he urged everyone to stay home.

''The Health Notice makes it clear water-based activities should not be taking place at this time. To put it simply, you should not be out on the water this Easter weekend. Likewise, if you are towing a boat on the road, expect to be stopped by our mobile patrols to check you're following the requirements.''

Hill said water-based activities had been banned because they posed a risk to the public and first responders.

''We need to keep the pressure off of our emergency services and hospitals at this time. If you're undertaking any travel this weekend it should be for essential purposes only, such as heading to the supermarket or pharmacy.''

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Liveaboards, people who live on their boats, should remain in the same location as when the country moved to Covid-19 alert level 4, he said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website