On Tuesday 28 April, Taranaki Iwi Community Checkpoint Plans at the Northern, Eastern and Southern boundaries of Taranaki will come into effect. Checkpoints will be operating with support from Taranaki Police in Urenui and Pātea, and a mobile Police patrol will be operating at the eastern entrance to Taranaki along the Forgotten Highway (SH43).
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.
The checkpoints mean that people who are travelling into Taranaki will be queried about their reasons for being on the road and travelling into the Taranaki region.
If travel is deemed unnecessary or non-essential, travellers will be asked to return home and be provided with information on COVID-19 Alert Level expectations.
Jamie Tuuta, Chairman for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga said the checkpoint is aimed at enhancing the efforts already underway to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the Taranaki rohe.
"By supporting iwi volunteers to safely manage and monitor those who seek to travel into Taranaki, the eight iwi of Taranaki can feel confident that we're all doing our part to play an important role in ensuring our most vulnerable are protected”, says Tuuta.
While there may have been relatively low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taranaki (15 now, including a confirmed case this weekend), Taranaki Iwi say there has also been limited COVID-19 testing in Taranaki, especially in rural and most vulnerable communities.
"Until the presence of COVID-19 across our region has been established or ruled out, especially given another case has just been confirmed in Taranaki, we need to ensure we protect those vulnerable communities and that we have an ability to track travel movement into Taranaki," says Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Kaiarataki for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui.
In a statement to Te Ao, Taranaki Iwi state that, “The purpose of the checkpoints is to have a presence, to demonstrate care for their communities and to encourage the appropriate travel behaviour under COVID-19 Alert Levels. This measure provides an opportunity to reduce non-essential travel into the Taranaki region and capture data to assist in monitoring those entering our rohe.”