Police have warned church leaders at the centre of a Covid-19 mini-cluster they may face prosecution if they gather again in breach of Government restrictions.

Officers were called to shut down the Mount Roskill Evangelical Fellowship prayer meeting on August 15, while Auckland was under alert level 3 restrictions.

At that time, gatherings of up to 10 people could only take place for funerals and tangihanga or wedding services.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said police were called to the church meeting after 7pm, where they found churchgoers breaching the rules.


"At the location, police spoke with church leaders and they were told that the group gathered must disperse," he said.

"Police also provided education on the alert level 3 restrictions that were in place at the time.

"Church leaders were verbally warned that any further gatherings in breach of restrictions could result in prosecution."

A rugby league club closely associated with the Mount Roskill Evangelical Fellowship is calling for people to be compassionate towards the church.

The Bay Roskill Rugby League, which has been associated with the church for more than 20 years, said the fellowship contributed to the club "at all levels" including players, administrators and coach and management staff.

It is also linked to the Bay Roskill God Squad, a team within the club that has fostered league talents, including ex-Warriors Jerome Ropati and Ben Henry.

A spokeswoman for the league club said members were notified of the Covid threat on August 26, after the church was publicly linked to five positive cases.

Members were given support on health and safety protocols, where to get a test, how to stop the spread of the virus and casual contact information.


Four days later, on August 30, public health authorities advised all club members to be tested for Covid-19 as a precaution, she said.

Forty-three cases of the coronavirus are now linked to the church; six new cases were reported by director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today.

A sub-cluster of 22 people within that total number have been linked to a funeral on September 2 and visits to the household of the bereaved.

Bloomfield said an infectious person who was part of the church group had visited the home of the bereaved, despite awaiting their test result for Covid-19.

All the close contacts, including all 48 people at the funeral, from those events were in isolation and were being tested.

New Zealand Covid-19 resurgence - A timeline of events. Video / NZ Herald

Health Minister Chris Hipkins today said it was apparent some close contacts of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church sub-cluster were not previously disclosed, including a student who recently tested positive.


A student at St Dominic's Catholic College in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19, and has been linked to the sub-cluster. They attended school last Friday but left early after starting to feel unwell.

Hipkins said in this case it appeared it was a close contact of the sub-cluster that had not been previously disclosed, and police were looking into whether that was deliberate.

But the Bay Roskill Rugby League spokeswoman said the church was following the guidance of public health authorities, "who have previously reported its gratitude for their help in providing their full support to identify contacts".

"I encourage people not to condemn them but be compassionate during these uncertain times," she said.

"We respect the privacy of those who have tested positive and wish them well for a speedy recovery."

Subscribe to Premium

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the mini-cluster was a reminder that gatherings were restricted for a reason: to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the community.


"It is disappointing that some, including fringe political and other groups, are still suggesting that these rules aren't necessary," he said.

"Or worse still, that Covid-19 is not real but some type of international conspiracy. That claim is patently wrong and irresponsible.

"The constraints we are all living under are necessary and we all have a part to play in containing and eliminating the virus. If some don't, they let everyone else down."

Goff said he was pleased the Fellowship was now accepting the current Covid-19 restrictions, despite challenging the rules initially.