Two unwelcome boats enter Hicks Bay-Wharekahika to self-isolate

By Taroi Black

A Ngāti Porou hapū ordered 'isolation tourists' entering their secluded bay to leave while rural health services run thin.

This comes as the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put a travel ban on non-necessary travelers. The news during the announcement of Level 3 COVID-19 alert status was a let down for mana whenua when they spotted a German tourist. 

Locals explained that the unwanted incomers anchored their sailboats off the coast to self-isolate only a day after the announcement.  

However, given that New Zealand Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha supported the wishes of local hapu Te Whānau a Tūwhakairiora, checkpoints will be put in place.

Checkpoint Coordinator and hapū spokesperson Tina Ngata told Te Ao Maori News the lack of health services and chronic illnesses hammering their people is the reason for this restriction.

“We are both more likely to contract COVID-19, as well as less likely to recover from it.”

“When you put that together with the lack of health services within Ngati Porou, it places us at a higher level of risk than most New Zealand regions, and citizens,” Ngata says.

Ultimately the agenda put in place by hapū and the wider community want to reserve local health services for their own people as access to a doctor and nurses simply aren’t operating up the coast.

Ruatoria Community Health Centre. Photo / File

The nearest full-time nurse for Wharekahika lives in Ruatoria and another part-time nurse in Matakawa.

So, strict guidelines to keep residents, road users safe, means that their community is protected and managed from the infection.

Since Te Whānau a Apanui announcing earlier this week to shut down their borders, meant that Deputy Commissioner Haumaha works closely to ensure checkpoints are well supported.

“We want to model what it looks like when iwi, police, councils and other agencies work in partnership,” Haumaha says.

Local whanau of Tūwhakairiora also urged residents to be mindful on their travels to Gisborne as they risk bringing the infection to their rohe.

“Now more than ever it is essential that our community is well protected, and that will require strong, collaborative relationships between communities, local government and state agencies,” Ngata concludes.