An exclusive Far North resort was blockaded after locals became concerned it had been visited by a new Covid-positive case - but the manager says it was a Facebook rumour that led to guests being turned away.
A crowd gathered at the front gate of Carrington Estate on the Karikari Peninsula yesterday after it became one of a number of local businesses linked on social media to Northland's newest cases of the virus.
The resort boasts a golf course, restaurant and winery with rooms priced from around $400. Despite it being the focus of local gossip, it is not listed on the Ministry of Health's locations of interest page.
Caroline Snowden was at the entrance of the estate yesterday morning with a dozen others from the Haititaimarangai Marae, the tupuna marae of Ngāti Kahu. Numbers grew during the day until dispersing shortly after police arrived mid-afternoon.
Snowden said those present had asked to meet with the manager of the estate to confirm it was a location of interest. She said they also wanted assurances staff had opportunities to be tested and to isolate if required.
Snowden said the group was motivated by its responsibilities as mana whenua with a view to "safety for our people and our peninsula".
She said that the group was not blocking traffic but stopping those arriving and going to ask about Covid-19 plans at the estate.
But Carrington Estate manager William Tan said those who gathered at the gate had blocked access to the estate and deterred guests from entering. "It's caused quite a bit of stress to our guests."
He said he had attempted to talk to the group by phone but they would not use a phone offered by a staff member at the gate. He said the group left mid-afternoon after police were called.
"They need to be charged. You can't shut down a private business. It's still just a rumour on Facebook."
He said he had contacted the Ministry of Health to check and was told the resort was not listed as linked to a current Covid case.
There are now two Covid-positive cases in the Kaitaia region. A man who lives near Kaitaia was the first to test positive, followed by his former partner who lives with their children near Pukenui.
Locations of interest linked to the case include the Awanui Hotel, along with Bells Produce and Farmers in Kaitaia.