March 24, 2020
Opotiki District Council, Te Whanau a Apanui, New Zealand Police – Limits on movements into and out of tribal lands begin today
At midday today 25 March 2020], limitations will be placed on people moving into and out of the Te Whānau a Apanui rohe on the east coast of the North Island as a community safe zone is set up to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ōpōtiki Mayor, Lyn Riesterer, said that Ōpōtiki District Council, New Zealand Police, health agencies and industry has been working closely with Te Whānau a Apanui to ensure plans were in place for essential services and crucial goods in and out of the area marked by the settlements of Hāwai and Pōtaka.
“We have been working closely together to ensure that the focus is on the safety of the vulnerable and older members of the Te Whānau a Apanui communities.
“Given the rise in New Zealand’s response level to three and later tonight to level four, we do not anticipate that many people will be travelling at all. Central government has been very clear â we should all stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside our household.
“But this is the community’s way to putting the national restrictions into action at a community level. This is to protect their Kaumātua and this is the best way they can do so,” Mayor Riesterer said.
Iwi leader, Rikirangi Gage, said that the risks posed by COVID-19 needed swift action to protect the elders but that goods and services that needed to travel into and through the rohe could continue.
“This rāhui part of a bigger kaupapa – a bigger piece of work to ensure the safety of our Kaumātua and other vulnerable community members. It is about more flu shots, bringing shopping to people so they don’t have to go out, making sure people have kai and medicine they need and looking out for each other.
“And it is also saying to people who just want to come through the rohe to fish or tourists or cyclists and holidaymakers, don’t come. When this is finished and lives return to normal we will welcome you to our beautiful part of the world.
“But right now, each person who comes in brings with them the risk of COVID-19 and it is not a risk we can take in our isolated and vulnerable communities. Please respect that,” Rikirangi Gage said.
Eastern Bay of Plenty Police are committed to providing support to Te Whānau a Apanui in the establishment of a community safety zone along that section of State Highway 35. The safety zone will be manned by Police and Te Whānau a Apanui and is primarily aimed at restricted unnecessary traffic into the East Cape.
“The less people who have the potential to spread COVID19, the better. This is crucial to protecting those vulnerable in the community.
“In the present environment, people intending to visit this part of the East Cape for non-essential reasons will be directed elsewhere. It’s a small inconvenience but important that we all do what we can to reduce risk,” said Acting Area Commander Stuart Nightingale.
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