The Civil Defence Emergency declared for New Zealand to stop the spread of Covid-19 has given special powers to local government and emergency services.

Civil Defence & Emergency Management Committees throughout the regions are tasked with handling this unprecedented time as we lock down for the next four weeks to stop the disease, likely to kill some our most vulnerable citizens.

Rick Barker, Hawke's Bay Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee chairman, said it is a grave moment in time.

"We thought all the time as I grew up, that being a small island nation in the Pacific, we would be less vulnerable to these things," he said.


"But now we are just as exposed as anybody else.

"This exposure means we are at risk of losing thousands of lives but this is preventable.

"Preventable by individual action, by the action of groups of families, to make sure that they stay safe, to make sure that they stay at home, to make sure that they isolate themselves."

Barker is keen to motivate people to follow the rules of "disengagement".

"Any community interaction bring with it the prospect of the transference of the virus.

"This is a silent unseen deadly virus. Many people recover from it, of that there is no doubt. Some people recover from it and never know they have had it.

"But for some in our community it can mean a very debilitating disease. And it can mean death.

"Whatever your immediate group is, identify that and do not go out of it. Because, if you do, you will increase the risk of the transmission of the virus.


"We are blessed in Hawke's Bay with strong communities and high levels of trust in those communities.

"These are incredibly valuable assets. This community strength and trust means we will be able to do many, many things."

Barker said Civil Defence would need community support, and to not expect perfection, as there might be some gaps that need filling. Special care was needed for elderly people and those living alone.

"I am sure they are more than just nervous or apprehensive. So if you live next to an elderly person, what we ask of you is to shout over the fence every day to see how they are.

"Communicate with them. You don't have to be that close - just communicate with them and say, 'Hello there, I'm here, you're there, is everything okay?' If something is not okay, make contact with somebody who can do something about it.

"Make sure that we draw together as a community.

He said a positive approach was needed if things went wrong.

"I say that because the prospect in front of us is daunting - to have all of our community living at home for four weeks is without precedent.

"It is going to be a big ask but you should not be daunted by it. We should see within us our strength, in the resilience of our communities, and we should prevail.

Barker said local mayors are important voices over the next month. And if residents are concerned about serious transgressions, they should call police. But peer pressure and a desire to save lives, should be the main tool for compliance.

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