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A Taranaki bubble is being called for by the region's mayors and iwi leaders . The Taranaki Iwi Chairs' Forum and Taranaki Mayoral Forum issued a joint statement today, saying members are collaborating on a Taranaki-wide response to the heightened risk of Covid-19 entering the region. The statement says the collective view of the two forums is that a region-wide bubble is needed to protect Taranaki's residents. "If the North Island moves to level 3 restrictions, our collective view is that we must create a Taranaki bubble to protect our people and our economy." The Taranaki Iwi Chairs' Forum includes representatives from eight iwi in the region; Paul Silich (Ngāti Tama), Jamie Tuuta, (Ngāti Mutunga), Liana Poutu, (Te Atiawa), Holden Hohaia, (Ngāti Maru), Leanne Horo, (Taranaki), Bev Gibson, (Ngāruahine), Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, (Ngāti Ruanui) and Mike Neho, (Ngaa Rauru). The mayoral forum consists of the region's three mayors, Neil Volzke (Stratford), Phil Nixon (South Taranaki) and David MacLeod, the Taranaki Regional Council chairman. The statement also called on the Ministry of Health to ensure Taranaki had "adequate" supplies of tests and personal protective equipment. The region, along with the rest of New Zealand, apart from Auckland, is at level 2, and has been since noon on Wednesday. Auckland is currently at level 3. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office has confirmed a decision on whether lockdown continues will be made at 5.30pm tomorrow. FACEMASK Thirteen new cases of community transmission were revealed today. They take New Zealand's total number of cases in the community to 17, after it was announced on Tuesday that four people from the same family had tested positive. A school in New Plymouth sent 15 students home, as well as two teachers, after it learned they had visited a Rotorua tourist attraction at the same time as members from the Auckland family who had tested positive. The students, who are in Year 13 at Francis Douglas Memorial College, have been asked to stay home for the remainder of the school week.

Today's statement from the two groups called for people who had any contact with Auckland to get tested "We also encourage anyone living in Taranaki who has either visited Auckland recently or had contact with a visitor from Auckland to get tested without delay." Checkpoints were also called for if level 3 becomes a reality in the region. "If we enter level 3, we will be seeking Government resources to deliver checkpoints via the NZ Defence Force and/or NZ Police and believe this will greatly enhance the protection of our people and economy from the spread of Covid-19 across Aotearoa/New Zealand." The two forums are focused on working together, and with the Government, as the challenges of Covid-19 are faced, the statement said. "The Taranaki Iwi Chairs' Forum and Mayoral Forum are focused on protecting the wellbeing of all our people through these uncertain times and ensuring Taranaki is the safest region in Aotearoa/New Zealand. We are committed to working together as we face these challenges to our region and nation, in partnership with Government." The two groups are encouraging people to download the Government's Covid-19 Tracer App on a suitable phone if available, or to otherwise keep good records of their movements. The statement also encouraged businesses to do their part by displaying the special QR codes on their premises and to follow all other relevant Covid-19 level protocols including those around hygiene and physical distancing.