Te Kahu o Taonui, a collective of Taitokerau iwi chairs and CEOs (representing Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, NgāiTakoto, Ngāpuhi, Kahukuraariki, Whangaroa, Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara) acknowledged today that the government was looking to move from Covid-19 Alert Level 4 to Level 3, but adopted a cautious approach.

"Te Kahu o Taonui understands the Crown will provide a national response with regional nuancing, (but) we will be led by the wishes and needs of our people," it said.

Pandemic chairman Harry Burkhardt (Ngāti Kuri) said the collective had contacted key community leaders and kaumātua, and the local response was firm: "They believe it is critical to stay where they are now, as they do not believe they are safe yet."

Te Aupōuri and Ngāti Kuri Covid-19 incident team co-leader Sheridan Waitai had told Te Kahu o Taonui that they would take a "phased approach" to ensure their communities were fully informed, engaged and empowered to transition through alert levels confidently and safely at their own pace.

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"As iwi we have developed a comprehensive communications process, and have moved towards enhanced community patrols, supported by the local police, and the use of integrated data systems to assist with rapid resource deployment and decision-making," she added.

Te Kahu o Taonui agreed that iwi would meet their obligations to keep their uri safe; that it was important that as they responded to Covid-19 they continued to focus on the critical "tools" of distant socialising and reinforced messaging of personal hygiene and whānau care; that their decisions would be judged by their history and actions, and a precautionary approach was the only principled response to a virus that had no vaccine; and that they needed to find a way to live with the ever-present danger of Covid-19 to keep whānau safe.