'Government has turned its back on Te Tai Tokerau'

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

A Ngāti Wai spokesman claims the government has turned its back on Te Tai Tokerau.

Aperehama Edwards says he’s been overwhelmed with messages and calls from worried locals who want to know why Northland’s Covid-19 alert level hasn't changed.

No new cases were reported in the region today and the number of cases from Northland associated with the current outbreak remains at seven. Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says the cases are contained and there is no need to raise alert levels. 

But Edwards disagrees.

"It's clear that the government has turned its back on Te Tai Tokerau. It goes on about getting the virus under control but when it comes to Northland the region is left to deal with it alone.” 

Mangamuka school in the Far North is next to a dairy that is listed as a location of interest.

Principal Veronica Allen says the community received no warning from the Ministry of Health.

"I had no one contact me when our dairy was named. I had no support," Allen says.

Covid-19 Response and Education Minister Chris Hipkins says he wasn’t aware of the case but added: “Advice certainly is available from both the Ministry of Education and the public health unit."

But Allen is unimpressed with the response and says closing the school was a difficult decision to make without guidance.

"You can mandate us to get vaccinated but what is your role when it comes to supporting us?” Allen asked.

Edwards wants the government to make a tougher call.

"What are you waiting for? For the virus to spread throughout the communities? Go to level three, tighten restrictions, and then we can gradually go down."