A mayor is calling for a small Waikato seaside community to be part of Auckland's lockdown after it was cut off from essential services and supplies when a checkpoint unexpectedly shifted yesterday.
Residents at Port Waikato face a challenging two-and-a-half hour return drive on a single-lane gravel road with no cellphone coverage to get food and petrol and access medical services after a checkpoint was moved, cutting them off from their closest town.
While the settlement is in Waikato and at the lower alert level 2, the closest town is just 30km away at alert level 3, Tuakau, which is also in Waikato.
The strict enforcement means locals are expected to make a 160km round trip to Te Kauwhata or Huntly to get basic supplies.
The new roadblock was set up late afternoon at the intersection of Port Waikato-Tuakau Bridge Rd and Klondyke Rd.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Samson is pushing for a border shift so Port Waikato can be part of Auckland's level 3 lockdown.
He has approached relevant authorities lobbying for an urgent change so the southernmost tip of Auckland's boundary carries on to the west coast.
"We acknowledge this won't suit everyone in that area, but we think it would work better for the majority of the community up there," said Sanson.
"We have heard the current set-up with a police checkpoint at Klondyke Rd is incredibly frustrating for residents in the Port Waikato area that need to shop for essential supplies.
"The current level 2/3 border in that area doesn't seem to make sense and effectively cuts off Port Waikato from their communities of interest in Tuakau and Pokeno."
He said while it might only last a couple more days, it could be for longer, and if it did continue many would be struggling to drive the long way round to Huntly for basic supplies.
Locals were this morning turned away by police manning the new checkpoint, only able to pass with a letter of permission.
The president of the Port Waikato Residents and Ratepayers' Association, Leah Fry, says the community, which has a large aging population, is cut off with the road, a one-lane shingle bullock track, barely passable in places by washouts.
"It's not a nice bit of road to drive. A lot of people won't be able to drive it. They'll be too scared to drive it so they're trapped. Port Waikato is cut off. We have no way out unless you're brave and hardy."
Fry said the community had one dairy, with no petrol station.
She said people trying to leave town for work this morning were not allowed past the checkpoints without documentation.
"My son tried to get to work this morning. No letter, you don't get through. That's it. End of story."
Local National MP Andrew Bayly is stunned by the development, saying it is wrong and promising to do whatever it takes to overturn the decision.
"This afternoon the Ministry of Health decided to put in this particular road stop. If you take that area, from Klondyke Rd to the sea, that's now been deemed the Waikato, level 2, and everything from Klondyke Rd back towards Tuakau is now level 3," said Bayly.
He said it was different to the border in place for Auckland's August lockdown.
"The border was between Tuakau and Pukekohe, so it separated those two areas, and also separated Pokeno from Bombay."
Tuakau was the main centre for Port Waikato residents to do their shopping, but the roadblock has cut off access, he said.
Port Waikato residents now have to drive a 75km or 90-minute route to Te Kauwhata to access essential services while the region is in lockdown.
Bayly said in terms of essential services at Port Waikato "there is literally nothing" bar a modest corner store.
"The worst thing about it is the first 26km is on gravel. There's no cellphone coverage.
"I've driven that road, it's for farm vehicles. It's designed for stock trucks and it's not a safe road to drive. There's literally no petrol station in Port Waikato or all that way until you get to Te Kauwhata. It's an extraordinary decision to make.
"It is a huge imposition of the people of Port Waikato and many will not be able to travel to their jobs," he said.
"I am sorry for all the residents of Port Waikato but will keep trying to overturn the decision."
He said people were going "ballistic" on Facebook about the new roadblock.
Bayly said he approached Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins for intervention but was directed to a website.
The government covid response team has been approached for comment.