Police say an Aucklander found in Whakatāne on Monday was allowed through a border checkpoint due to "concerns for their safety".
Police took the person into custody, the Whakatāne Beacon reported, but Senior Sergeant Al Fenwick said he could not comment on the circumstances of the person's visit because the matter was under investigation and police may prosecute.
The Whakatāne Beacon understood the person visited a number of stores and contacted the Whakatāne Work and Income office.
Asked questions about the incident today - including how the person got through the Auckland border - a police spokeswoman told NZME the person "spoke to staff at the border checkpoint and was able to continue their travel due to concerns for their safety".
"Police engaged with the individual again when they arrived in Whakatāne and after support from other agencies was put in place the person was able to return to Auckland."
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said there was "no suggestion at this stage that this person is a [Covid-19] case" and directed other questions to police.
Te Pati Māori co-leader and Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi said the incident was "not good enough".
"That there shows that the system failed that person and put the people of the Eastern Bay at risk."
He said the police manning the checkpoints "failed to ensure nobody was able to leave Auckland under alert level 4".
"It's not good enough that only individuals be held accountable for their actions, but so should those upholding the system."
Waititi said the Whakatāne township and neighbouring rural areas had limited health resources and a Covid-19 outbreak would be "devastating".
"Every action and decision we make, we need to think about the consequences."
Waititi said vaccinations were the way to add a layer of protection.
"If you didn't like lockdown, get a jab. If you really didn't like lockdown, get two jabs."
While he felt for those still in lockdown, he said Aucklanders must "stay put".
"It's for the greater good and the greater good of their whānau."
Asked in the 1pm briefing about the incident, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said it fell with police, who enforced lockdown rules.
He said he would not comment on the case specifically, particularly if a prosecution was looming.
"The vast majority of people in Auckland are doing it tough for the rest of the country and we thank them for that.
"If a handful aren't, they are undermining the collective team effort and they shouldn't."
Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner, Mike Bryant, told the Whakatane Beacon a client from Auckland made contact with Work and Income, and said they had travelled to Whakatāne.
"We got in touch with police and encouraged the client to visit the local police station," he said. Bryant said the client did not visit the Pyne St service centre.
Whakatāne mayor Judy Turner said the incident was "a big letdown" and potentially put the Whakatāne community at risk.
She said it sounded as though the person had personal challenges, and it was good that police followed up on concerns.
Her biggest concerns were if the person was infectious and how many people and businesses would be potentially impacted if they were. Authorities have said there is no indication the person was infectious.
Labour MP for the East Coast, Kiri Allan, said breaking lockdown rules "undermines everything the country – and especially Auckland – has been doing to stamp out the Delta outbreak."
The Beacon reported police were following instructions from the Ministry of Health and the person has undergone Covid-19 testing.
Fenwick said it was disappointing people would blatantly break the rules, the Beacon reported.
"Even if they don't have Covid it presents as an opportunity for it to come into our community and that's the last thing we want."
NZME also asked police about the security of the Auckland border, how long the person was out of Auckland, where they stopped, what Covid testing they had and for a response to Waititi's comments.
The incident followed one where an Auckland couple used essential service documentation to leave lockdown on Thursday and travel to Wānaka.
William Willis, 35, and lawyer Hannah Rawnsley, 26, apologised, saying their actions were "completely irresponsible and inexcusable".
-ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HAZEL OSBORNE AT THE WHAKATANE BEACON