Ask another town to set up a new MIQ, not Rotorua - Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait 

By Herewini Waikato

Rotorua has three hotels used for managed isolation and quarantine and the government is now looking at setting up another one in the city.

But the idea has been given the thumbs down by a member of the Rotorua Lakes Council. Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has told the government to “bugger off”.

“We have got over 20 motels for temporary and emergency accommodation, transitional housing for the Ministry of Social Development and we have the three big existing hotels for MIQ. We have more than contributed, so I think just go somewhere else,” Raukawa Tait says.

The Ministry of Business (MIBE) confirms it is in the early stages of investigating extra MIQ facilities, including in Rotorua.

 In a statement to Te Ao Mārama, MBIE managed isolation and quarantine joint head Megan Main says due to extremely high demand for MIQ space, MBIE is investigating potentially bringing additional facilities online.

 ‘Not fair to Rotorua’

“We are in the very early stages of investigating potential options, including in Rotorua, but no decisions have been made.” 

Raukawa-Tait has concerns about a lack of capacity to support another managed isolation hotel. She says there are 57 staff from the district health board who are already deployed into the MIQ facilities and that affects Rotorua’s health services. Nine police officers are also deployed into these facilities.

“Those police and those coming from the health board are very much needed in their areas,” Raukawa- Tait says.  

“I don't want to have any other social impacts on our community. It is just not fair to Rotorua.”

Te Arawa opposed

A member of the Te Arawa Covid-19 Response Hub, Monty Morrison, spoke with the Ministry of Health MIQ unit in Wellington last week. Te Arawa told the government it disagreed with the idea of another Rotorua hotel.

“Most of us asked why they haven't asked other towns instead to help out,” Morrison says. The Te Arawa Covid-19 Response Hub believe the officials should go back to Wellington and discuss it with the cabinet. The iwi plans to share its thoughts with the Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

Raukawa-Tait wants the ministry to take its ideas somewhere else: “The government should say, ‘look at Rotorua, look what they have done’ and now let's look at other towns and say ‘Put your hand up and step up as well'."

 MBIE will be taking the feedback and findings back to the Minister for Covid-19 Response in the next few weeks for consideration.