Dr Rawiri Taonui wants Auckland ordered back to Alert level 4

By Tamati Tiananga

Pandemic researcher Dr Rawiri Taonui says Aucklanders will have to accept the harsh reality the county's largest city could return to Alert Level 4 over the festive season if community cases continue to rise rapidly.

Tāmaki Makaurau has had to take the brunt of living under strict alert levels as the Ministry of Health struggles to get the outbreak under control.

“The only way we are going to halt the current surge in Delta is for Auckland to go back to Alert Level 4 and for North Island to go to Alert Level 3,” Taonui says.

Many Aucklanders rushed to take advantage of the sun the weekend, with hundreds packing out popular summer spot Kohimarama beach with its views of Rangitoto.  But a shocked Taonui wants an immediate stop largescale outings like that.

Yesterday was the highest single day for Māori testing positive for Covid-19 accounting for 30 of the 60 new cases.  

Dr Rawiri Taonui says, “Level 4 in Auckland for the five weeks went well, with the average of 66 cases per day in the second week. In the last week of level 4 the average cases went down to 16.”

The decision to get vaccinated was made easy for Tiana Watkins and Jeremy Chapman. Watkins' eldest daughter has a history of chronic respiratory illness.

“I've been in ICU with her for many years. I almost lost her when she was 10-years old and, as a māmā, terrified out of my mind because you can't actually take their pain away from them.”

“She was unable to breathe and she couldn't lie on her back because her oxygen was so low and I never want to be in that position as a māmā again or as a grandmother too," Watkins says.   

Watkins works in the mental health profession and gives advice for those experiencing grief and loss under strict alert levels.

"I work in mental health and I manage New Zealand's national suicide prevention training. Our mahi has not stopped. If anything our mahi has increased substantially," said Watkins.   

Kohimarama local Robert Herewini-Selwyn, who suffers from mental illness, agrees extra support is needed.

"It's all about putting yourself into a safe place and environment and, when you consider Covid-19 is a lesson, it's also an education," he says.

Concern Aucklanders are breaking rules hasn't helped and for this couple, sadly,  the possibility of remaining in Auckland for Christmas looks likely.

Chapman adds, "We usually go to Waihi Beach or Tauranga or up north. But the reality is that's gone and we just need to be thankful for what we got because people are doing it tough at the moment. Just protect the kids and deal with the situation."