Taranaki iwi say that their checkpoints are aimed at enhancing the efforts already underway to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the rohe. This comes after another case was confirmed in the Taranaki this week. CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Debbie Ngarewa-PackerTaranaki explain the role of Iwi Community Checkpoints in fighting COVID-19.
"The first thing is they're giving us intel and insight into who's travelling into our region. Who should be travelling into our region and who shouldn't be. And most importantly we're finding who doesn't understand what level 3 alert means."
There are now 15 confirmed cases in the Taranaki area, and Ngarewa-Packer says, "We need to ensure we protect those vulnerable communities and that we now have an ability to track travel movement into Taranaki."
"The demand that's going to be coming upon the district and most importantly the lack of connect for those who will be coming through us. The lack of connect for us as tāngata whenua being able to get the support we need. To ensure is on the ground should an infection be coming in and should it become a part of the community."
Iwi volunteers at a new checkpoint in South Taranaki say the occupants of hundreds of vehicles they stopped did not meet the criteria to be driving under level three.
Spokesperson of Te Kōtahitanga Te Ātiawa Trust Liana Poutu says, "What we have been seeing from the beginning of this initiative to now are two very distinctive things. Firstly people are still unaware of the rules around travel that has been prohibited by the Government under the alert level three. The second is that some choose to just not adhere to the rules."
It is estimated about half of all vehicles entering from the northern or southern borders of Taranaki, should not have been on the road and the majority of them were international tourist.
Poutu adds, "We've seen some who have returned to Taranaki from holiday while still at alert level 4. We've seen many who have come to just see our maunga despite all parks and reserves been closed and others are just having tour around the place.-
Ngarewa-Packer says in closing, "We've had forty percent that are meeting the essential requirements, permitted requirements. There's a lot of inter-regional travel going on and we need to appreciate where they're going, how they're going. There's a lot of international travel going on, people think they can resume their holiday."
Taranaki iwi will continue to man the checkpoints needed to protect their rohe.