Following the hui on Friday, a number of questions were put to the Civil Defence and Emergency Management group regarding issues raised by hui participants.
The issue of Pak'nSave closing was a particular concern for all involved and renewed questions around the introduction of another supermarket chain to the area.
A Civil Defence Emergency Management Group spokesperson said CDEM had referred the concerns raised at the hui to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The CDEM spokesperson said the MBIE had then responded with their view of the situation and what would happen if Pak'nSave was to shut down as a result of being listed as a location of interest.
In a statement to the hui members via CDEM and obtained by the Northland Age, MBIE said in terms of Foodstuffs (who own Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square) the company were across all stores more broadly, separating crews, protecting capacity by separating shifts and bubbles and adhering to all level 4 conditions.
"The initial response is to streamline the activities of the store to focus on essential services to support the community – this is similar to the approach they have used and developed in their Auckland stores," MBIE explained.
"They believe the risk level of a complete store closure is low. And definitely low in a large format store, eg Pak'nSave Kaitaia or similar stores in Whangarei.
"For Northland in particular (and with reference to Kaitaia), Foodstuffs has an extensive network.
"While Pak'nSave Kaitaia is the only large store in the Far North, there is a network of 27 4 Square stores in the wider Northland region that would address immediate community needs (in the short term) with prioritised supply chain support.
"They would request that communities stay close to home and utilise these stores as much as possible. There are New World stores in Kerikeri, Kaikohe and Whangarei as well.
"With other large-format stores in surrounding towns, Foodstuffs would request team members to support the Kaitaia store on a voluntary basis if that was required."
The statement went further to say Foodstuffs had a warehouse site in Whangarei as part of its Northland supply chain and an old Pak'nSave site in Kaitaia that could be used for stock management locally.
It said other contingencies would be utilised if the need arose.
"Countdown has stores in Whangarei (four), Kerikeri, Kaikohe and Waitangi (two), as well as Fresh Choice and Supervalue that could be utilised if a large Countdown store was affected and temporarily closed," the statement said.
"Much like Foodstuffs, they would seek to streamline activities to focus on essential services to support the community, eg through reduced trading hours or swapping shifts in stores in case of a positive case.
"They would also workers from other stores to continue operations where that were required. No particular risk profile had been raised, but contingencies would be activated if required."
Kaitaia Business Association chairwoman Andrea Panther was also at the hui and said it was encouraging to see the different groups come together to prepare for the potential threat of a Delta outbreak in Te Hiku.
She said the hui had highlighted the monopolisation of Pak'nSave on the area and felt the MBIE's response regarding the potential shutdown of Kaitaia's only supermarket had been lacklustre.
"There's a lot of anxiety out there at the moment and people are concerned about the possibility of Pak'nSave closing should it be named as a location of interest," Panther said.
"We as a community are very concerned and are feeling very vulnerable if indeed a Delta case were discovered in the Te Hiku o te Ika area or the top of the Far North.
"Although they (MBIE) gave us assurance this scenario was covered and planned for, the people who live in our community don't quite feel the same way.
"All the dairies and foodmarts dotted around the place are very small in size and get most of their supplies from Pak'nSave.
"We also have people coming into Kaitaia anywhere from five minutes away to 90 minutes away because that's how spread out people are here in Te Hiku."
Panther said the "nearby" Four Square stores mentioned in the MBIE statement were in Pukenui and Coopers Beach which equalled an 80km or 68km return trip for either site.
She said a lot of community members wouldn't be able to make the trip as they wouldn't have the petrol or means to travel that far.
"There's been a lot of talk about Kaitaia not being big enough for another supermarket, but that's rubbish," Panther said.
"We service not just our local community, but thousands of people from around the region, as well as visitors in summer.
"The community is desperate for competition and this recent issue highlights the need for another supermarket."
The Northland Age contacted Foodstuffs regarding the issue of a potential shut down, as well as the potential use of the old Pak'nSave to store produce if necessary.
Foodstuffs NZ Head of Corporate Affairs Antoinette Laird said it had been a challenging time for everyone and asked that customers bear with the team as they worked to meet their needs.
"All of our New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square stores are open and trading at all alert levels," Laird said.
"When stores are identified as a location of interest we work closely with the store team, local District Health Board and the Ministry of Health, following all the protocols and guidance to make sure we are doing all we can to keep our teams and shoppers safe.
"Since Tuesday, August 17, our teams have been working to alert level 4 protocols, which means the store has been cleaned multiple times throughout the day, has implemented increased sanitisation procedures and mandatory mask wearing for customers and staff.
"We know it's not easy shopping in alert level 4 and while some of our stores are running a bit lean, we remain open."
In response to the call for a new supermarket chain, FNDC Mayor John Carter said he welcomed any new development that created employment and provided essential services to communities.
"We invite interested companies to contact us about any new business proposals," Carter said.
For people struggling to buy food or other essential items due to Covid-19, visit: https://covid19.govt.nz/activities/access-to-food-or-essential-items/