Ngāti Maru runs spontaneous checkpoint at Manaia

By Herewini Waikato

Manaia men at their checkpoint



Within an hour of the country going into lockdown last night, Ngāti Maru on the Coromandel Peninsula had set up its checkpoint outside the township of Manaia.

It wanted to halt any spread of the virus and keep whanau safe, so its volunteers told people who weren't essential workers to go home and stay home.

The whanau was concerned after it was revealed a man with Covid-19 (the Delta variant) had been in the Coromandel area to a number of places and events while infectious.

A small group of Manaia whanau decided to start up a checkpoint outside their homes from7pm.

They made no contact with Police or kaumātua but reacted quickly to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s call to the nation to stay home during these unprecedented times.

One of the locals lending a helping hand was Toko Renata.

His job was to slow cars down with his make-shift flag from a tokotoko and an orange rag.

Asked why they were doing this, his response was, “We are trying to stop the spread of Covid, which made its way here last weekend.”

Protecting the north

The leader of the group of guardians protecting the wellbeing of Manaia whanau and the wider community was Edward Mikaire who also lives in Manaia.

“Manaia is doing this is because we as a people feel that we need to bring awareness to other small communities that we are not going to let people just come in - the Delta is even worse for our people.”

Mikaire and the team would only turn away those who were not the residence or essential workers, especially those coming from Auckland to holiday homes during the lockdown, he said. Today over 50 vehicles passed through the checkpoint and no one was turned away.

Last night Police made their way out to the Manaia checkpoint.

Police observe the checkpoint

However, after 18 hours of this checkpoint, today at 12 pm, Police called the katiaki in for a hui.

The whanau said after much debate, it was clear Ngāti Pukenga and Ngāti Maru had done a great job and took the initiative to keep their elders, children, and grandchildren safe. However, the front line work was now to be handed over to Police.

Māori liaison kaumātua Harry Mikaire, also of Manaia, was proud of what these young men and women had achieved for their Manaia community and with their initiative actually promoting the Police to become more vigilant in the safety of all in the Coromandel Peninsula communities given the spread of ovid-19.  

Now that the checkpoint in Manaia will be finishing up. Police will be more present at checking roads and cars travelling between Thames and Coromandel.