Opposition to Northland traffic light move

By Heta Gardiner

Northland moved to the orange traffic light settings at midnight last night but one political commentator says Māori experts won’t be on board with the move.

Northland is the final region to move to the orange settings, lagging behind the rest of the country, primarily because of low vaccination rates. The region still hasn’t reached 90% vaccination for the first dose.

 “I don’t think this is going to be a very popular move,” political commentator Dr Lara Greaves says.

“I don’t think this is going to be very popular for the political left, and I don’t think this is going to be very popular with our Māori health experts either.”

The lecturer in New Zealand politics for Auckland University also believes the government is showing some inconsistencies. 

Not walking the talk?

“What we’re seeing from this government’s response, is a lot of talking about experts, a lot of talking about following expertise, and that’s not so well reflected. A lot of the stuff is in contrast with what Professor Michael Baker has been saying, what Professor Rawiri Taonui has been saying, and what a lot of others have been saying.”

The government has defended its move to change the traffic light system for Northland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday: “Vaccination rates have continued to increase in Northland and are now at 89 percent first dose. The easing of the Auckland boundary over summer did not drive an increase in cases so we believe it is safe for Northland to join the rest of the country at Orange.”

The government also decided all of New Zealand will go to the red traffic light system when Omicron comes into the community.

“We know from other countries it can take as little as 14 days for Omicron cases to grow from the hundreds into the thousands.

“The Red setting allows businesses to remain open and domestic travel to continue but includes mask wearing and gathering restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus and keep pressure off our health system,” Ardern said.