Risky or essential? Alert Level 3 contentious in Far North

By Aroha Mane

Northland will stay at Alert level 4 until Thursday when the government is to review the situation in the region.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says any move down to level 3 will depend on the results of surveillance and testing for Covid in the region.

The move to Alert Level 3 is a contentious issue in the far north.

“Half the community supports the move to level 3 especially businesses.,” Moko Tepania says. "They want to reopen so they can support their families. However, the other half are still extremely scared of the Delta virus. The memory of the Spanish influenza is still alive in the Northland region. It had a major impact on the community here.

"We still feel it, we still remember it and we still hear about how it took many of our whānau. So our people are still wary."

Tepania is a councillor for the Kaikohe-Hokianga ward. He is also a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe. Education resources for the 253 students at his school are a priority.

Food and technology shortage

“They're all at home at present. We've already distributed education resources but we don't have the ability to use the teaching programmes on TV.”

There's a need for food and access to technology for students.

“I feel for my students because I know some of them have limited resources. Some come to school to eat. I wonder if they're eating now? I know most of my students don't have access to resources like computers. We're still waiting for them from the Ministry of Education.”

Tepania's whānau owns and operates a laundromat in Kaikohe.

“On a positive note, we have a laundry available for those families who don't have machines at home. We're open and operating under the guidelines.”