It's now been six weeks since Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins stood before media during a hastily called Friday evening press conference and - clearly frustrated - announced a snap lockdown for Northland.
It was necessary despite no immediate evidence of community transmission in the region, he said, because two women had crossed the Auckland border with what he believed to be falsified travel documents then refused to cooperate with contact tracers after one of them tested positive for the virus.
Despite Hipkins' strong words that evening, police have not yet determined whether to charge the women with a crime.
"Police have made contact with both women, one of whom spoke with police, while the other declined to make any comment," a police spokesperson told the Herald.
"Police are currently seeking further legal advice before any decision is made around possible charges."
The investigation, the spokesperson added, had not been "helped by the fact one of the individuals declined to speak with police".
Retired law professor Bill Hodge, who taught at University of Auckland for nearly 50 years, said he was not necessarily surprised by the delay but police would want to be careful not to drag the investigation out too long.
"If you've got somebody who's cooperating, it's probably going to take a few weeks," he said. But when there's no cooperation, the result can be "an awkward investigation" in which police need to put more people on the ground to talk to witnesses who also might not be keen to cooperate.
There's also the issue, he said, of how unique the case is given the nation's only recently created lockdown laws.
"We haven't had a prosecution like this, so we're in new legal territory," Hodge explained.
"I wouldn't use the words 'test case', but police like to have precedence. All lawyers like to have precedence."
Establishing a case beyond a reasonable doubt was always tough, "especially when you don't have a guidebook", and so it made sense police were seeking legal advice, he said.
"I don't blame them for this - they want to get it right."
But on the other hand, going too slowly could lead to other problems, Hodge said.
The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act states that those accused of crimes "shall be informed promptly and in detail of the nature and cause of the charge" and they have "the right to be tried without undue delay".
"Those are soft limits, but the police are aware that if I'm a [defence] lawyer, I'll say, 'Why have you delayed all this time?'" Hodge explained.
In New Zealand, there's usually a limit of one year to lay charges for minor offences such as failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. The relatively new law, which has been cited against most of the alleged lockdown violators called to court in recent months, is punishable by up to six months' imprisonment and a fine of up to $4000.
But there were examples of agencies like WorkSafe frequently taking that entire year to firm up their case before filing charges, so police probably weren't sweating the matter yet, Hodge said.
During his October 8 announcement, Hipkins said the woman who tested positive for Covid-19 and her travelling companion were believed to have "travelled widely around the [Northland] region" from October 2-6.
"My understanding at this point, and I want to be clear that this is not yet verified, is that the person obtained a document by providing false information in order to get the document to travel across the border," Hipkins told the media. "By the time the falsity of that information had been identified and the document had been revoked, they were already in Northland at that point."
Hipkins said it was believed the travel document was "obtained under the social services category", which, when the document was later audited, was found to not be correct.
"Look, it's very disappointing," Hipkins said when a reporter asked if Cabinet was furious about the allegation "that this person basically frauded documents" then refused to cooperate with police. "There's no blame or shame associated with contracting Covid-19, but we do ask people to cooperate because it helps us to prevent other people getting Covid-19."
Both women were sent to MIQ facilities, but have since been released.
The travelling companion of the first woman who tested positive spoke to the Herald last month while still isolating at Jet Park Hotel. She also started feeling Covid-19 symptoms after the Northland trip, and although authorities initially said they couldn't find her, she said she was self-isolating at a friend's empty house and was in daily contact with a public health nurse.
She was keen to talk to police when released from MIQ, she said, adding there had been plenty of misinformation about her and her friend - including a strongly disputed claim echoed by Winston Peters that they were prostitutes who received help from the Mongrel Mob to obtain the travel documents.
"I am confident I won't [face charges], I am confident I did nothing wrong - I have all the texts and emails and proof," she told the Herald. "I was trying to be responsible.
"This makes no sense. They're not going to charge me, because there's nothing to charge me with."
The woman said her friend had recently started a new business in the building and in-home services space and intended to visit Northland for a series of "networking" meetings with potential clients.
"She requested travel exemptions and gave them reasons we were going," the travel companion said. "She had me down as an employee or assistant."
She insisted she and her friend had only stopped at five places while in Northland, and she gave each location to authorities.
"I have been co-operating," she said. "My friend may not have been more forthcoming because ... she felt like she was in trouble."
Hodge, the retired law professor, said on Friday that as a fellow Aucklander he understands the frustration some may be feeling about the sometimes slow wheels of justice.
"I think [police] want to have a prosecution," he said of the case. "I think it's important to lay down a precedent."
And so does the public, he said.
"I think we're all waiting, [thinking], 'Gee, what's going to happen to these people?'" he said, adding that it makes sense there will be resentment among Aucklanders who have tried to follow the rules.
"It's almost like we've been sentenced to home detention ourselves."