Taranaki iwi consider stopping community checkpoints in Level 2

By Jessica Tyson

Taranaki iwi are considering whether or not to continue community checkpoints when the country moves into Alert Level 2.

Ngā Iwi o Taranaki is a collective made up of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Maru, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, Te Kāhui o Taranaki, Te Korowai o Ngāruahine, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui and Te Kaahui o Rauru.

Ngāti Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa Packer says the iwi members first planned to carry out the checkpoints to a certain point “and it was marked about Level 2”.

“It was before there were any discussions coming from the Commissioner, but most importantly it was about us being proactive to the information coming through,” says Packer.

She says discussions have taken place about their next stage of response.

“Like everything we’ve done, it’s been united and it’s been about reacting to kai and our whanau needs, she says.

“We now see a pressing pressure on us to get into the next mode, to be able to be a part of what’s happening with legislation being fast-tracked, how we help our whānau, our businesses, those that need employment to be in the best positions. So we’ve adjusted and pivoted as the call of our community’s required.”

Taranaki Iwi work with Police to protect vulnerable communities 

Packer says the checkpoints have helped the iwi protect their whakapapa and kaumātua.

“It has given us an intricate insight into those who are travelling inter-regionally, who have travelled outside of what the rules are, most importantly don’t have the messaging or the manaaki to assert what is the correct way to move through Taranaki, says Packer.

“So the data is gold and I guess from us it’s been able to give us more certainty and clarity on where to next and carrying on the protection of our whakapapa.”

She says since the checkpoints were first established there was a major decline in interregional travel.

“That’s a lot to do with the fact that people know from Wanganui to Taranaki there are signs out saying there’s a checkpoint so there a deterrent before you get in the car really.”  

There were many excuses drivers gave about wanting to travel through Taranaki in the earliest days before the country moved into Level 4.

Packers says some drivers said they wanted to finish their holiday before the country went into lockdown, some wanted to see the maunga, some wanted to go surfing, pick up their new puppy or item off Trademe, or visit KFC and Burger King because they preferred the restaurants in Taranaki more than the restaurants in Whanganui.

“There were just some random excuses that sometimes compromises our region but also there was a lot of confusion particularly those who were tourists.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce on Monday, May 11 whether or not New Zealand will move to Level 2.