Lack of access to food and essential items, hospital beds and border controls were among the top concerns raised at two Covid-19-focused community hui held in Te Hiku recently.
The online meetings on August 27 and August 30 discussed the potential threat to the Far North community should a Delta outbreak occur in the region.
Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust vice chairman Hugh Karena and Kotui Hauora programme lead Marty Rogers convened the meetings, which involved Te Hiku marae, iwi and community representatives.
The hui focused on a range of "what if" scenarios and looked at ways local groups and communities could "mahi tahi" (work together) to develop a plan to protect Te Hiku residents and communities.
Karena said everyone was anxious about what would happen should Delta reach Te Hiku and wanted to ensure the community was prepared.
"We want to know if we have enough medical support or hospital beds to cater for an outbreak," Karena said.
"We also want to know what happens to our food supplies if Pak'nSave is closed as a location of interest should people flood into the North from areas already afflicted by Delta.
"The digital hui was a positive first step to share stories about things that are important to our people and to find out what different groups are planning to do if and when Delta does hit.
"It was our tupuna Merengaroto who coined the phase 'He aha te mea nui o tēnei Ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata' which means, 'What is the most important thing in this world? – it is people, it is people, it is people'.
"That is the reason we must focus on the wellbeing of our people and get our act together to protect them."
Other themes that emerged focused on regional security and maintaining a clear distribution line of kai for whānau.
Sheridan Waitai of Ngati Kuri said as opposed to last year's lockdown, they would not be rushing to put volunteers on the frontline, due to the contagious nature of the Delta strain.
"Our isolated communities are nearly an hour and a half from the closest supermarket, so we need to ensure we have the ability to protect and maintain our supply of kai and water," she said.
Kaitaia Hospital reassured the hui they were well prepared for an influx of patients and welcomed walk-ins, with their own in-house Covid-19 testing service and three ventilators at the ready.
Te Hiku Hauora chief executive Bill Halkyard shared his thoughts prior to the digital hui and said the best way to prevent Te Hiku people from dying of the Covid-19 Delta strain was to encourage everyone over the age of 12 to vaccinate.
The contentious issue of community-led border control was also raised, which was currently at a standstill due to a crackdown from authorities.
Ngāitakoto co-chairman Wallace Rivers said iwi chairs had expressed their dismay with the current situation and Te Taitokerau Iwi would not accept another slow reaction such as what they had seen recently in the North.
"The current legislation on border control will not allow co-partnership in regional border security," Rivers said.
"Presently it's considered a police job only and iwi has to work with them.
"Border security must be stood up immediately and iwi and Tai Tokerau Border Control needs to be part of this process moving forward."
Tai Tokerau Border Control's Hone Harawira echoed Rivers' concern and went further, saying people needed to start reporting vehicle registration numbers to the authorities.
"Delta has been brought here by outsiders, so it is important for our Te Hiku citizens to take registrations of suspicious vehicles and share this information directly with police," Harawira said.
"Checkpoints are one thing, but communication and good information is equally as important to educate our whānau."
Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāti Kahu CEO Anahera Herbert-Graves continued the kōrero and asked police do their part by using the Waiwera tunnel camera footage to give Te Hiku real-time data on how many non-Taitokerau registered vehicles had made their way to the North.