The Matakana Island community have taken lockdown measures into their own hands with locals taking the reins to ensure no one steps foot on their island.

Instead of being called guards, local Matetahatika Samuels and the team preferred to be called kaitiaki, meaning trustees or guardians of the land.

Every hour of the day, two kaitiaki stand at the wharf barge to ensure no one breaks lockdown rules and come on to the island.

Matetahatika Samuels working his patrol shift kitted out in safety gear. Photo / Supplied
Matetahatika Samuels working his patrol shift kitted out in safety gear. Photo / Supplied

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He said the patrols would continue for as long as they needed to.

The drive behind the dedicated volunteers was to "keep our small island community safe", Samuels said.

A member of the patrol staff walks near a sign asking people to stay away. Photo / Supplied
A member of the patrol staff walks near a sign asking people to stay away. Photo / Supplied

"We cannot afford for this virus to reach our shores."

So far, the kaitiaki had not encountered any person attempting to break the rules but Samuels warned if anyone did, they would quickly be reported to officials.

"Keeping our people safe is our main priority."

He said there were many elderly living on the island and access to healthcare assistance had "always been more challenging for us" due to their island location.

It was important to protect those more vulnerable, he said.

Patrol staff surrounding the water's edge. Photo / Supplied
Patrol staff surrounding the water's edge. Photo / Supplied

Elderly Matakana Island resident Hauata Palmer was part of the group that put together the monitoring plan as he believed "if the virus hit, it would wipe us out".

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He said it was all about making sure the community was safe and although their patrols were "not like a police force", it was a good way to keep some sort of control.

"Only essential travel, that is it."

He said the whole community backed the patrols and had allowed them to set up "any rules we want" to keep the island protected.

Deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha said community policing to be protective was encouraged.

"These are unprecedented times and we are working with communities across the country to restrict the spread of this virus."

He said iwi were taking the lead to ensure rural communities that did not have access to support services were well protected and police were working closely with them.

"We are all coming to this kaupapa from the same place – out of a need to protect the most vulnerable in the community."