"It gives me no pleasure to say 'We told you so,' even though authorities shut down our checkpoints when they already knew we were facing a new crisis."
So Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira said on Monday, after police set up checkpoints north and south of Auckland after the city was returned to Covid alert level 3 following the confirmation of three new cases in the community.
Tai Tokerau Border Control had erected checkpoints in January, as a barrier to the threat posed by the new South African strain of Covid-19 in the North, to let people why we iwi were concerned,and where to get tested, and because the government had not initiated plans to protect kaumātua and kuia in the North or Māori in general, who were amongst the most vulnerable to the latest strain.
"That was three weeks ago," Harawira said.
"SAC-19 was new to our shores, but we already knew from overseas data that it was 50 per cent more contagious than Covid-19, less responsive to vaccines, and was responsible for the huge surge in South African cases, from 2000 a day to 18,000 a day, in just two months. Now we have six cases of the British strain (UK-19) of Covid-19 in the country, three of them community cases, forcing the government to throw the country back into lockdown."
Health experts had warned that the highly-transmissible UK-19 strain, which arrived in New Zealand before Christmas, would severely test the quarantine process. It had spreading rapidly in south-east England, was thought to be 50-70 per cent more infectious than "regular" coronavirus, and was now responsible for more than 70 per cent of all Covid cases in London.
It had quickly become the dominant strain, and was responsible for record daily deaths in Britain, forcing the government there to close schools, and prompting many countries ban travel from the United Kingdom.
"And now we have UK-19 here, along with SAC-19 and Covid-19," he said.
"We have concern for the whānau directly affected, for the people of South Auckland and down into Taranaki, and also for the Tai Tokerau teams who competed at touch and tag tournaments in Auckland over the weekend and have been turned away from getting tested because they 'weren't in the wrong area at the right time.'
"We applaud the restanding of the Auckland checkpoints... We support Ngāti Whātua managing the checkpoints because of their more intimate knowledge of people and tikanga across the border area, with the support of the police and the Army, but we will restand up our own checkpoints to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people, and particularly our kaumātua and kuia, if it becomes clear that our southern borders are not doing the job."
TBC co-ordinators were talking with Ngāti Whātua, iwi and with health authorities to obtain the best information on how and when to act.
"Watch this space," he concluded.
Page 2 - Would Hone do a better job than the police?