Whakarewarewa Village Rotorua: ‘No MIQ on our back door-step thanks’  

By Herewini Waikato

The Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Health are planning to open a fourth managed isolation quarantine facility (MIQ) in Rotorua - this time in the heart of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao village at Te Whakarewarewa - near its marae, Te Pākira.

Tūhourangi has been told by managed isolation quarantine managers the Holiday Inn located next to their wharekai, Te Rau Aroha, is one of the hotels proposed for another MIQ hotel.

But Tūhourangi has sent a letter of concern to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins asking them not to allow this to happen on its back doorstep.

Aneta Morgan from Whakarewarewa Village is spearheading this campaign for her Tūhourangi Iwi, seeking to stop any further establishments of MIQ in Rotorua, especially one so close to her turangawaewae (place of belonging).

“We were concerned immediately because it is in close proximity to our wharekai, our pā, our marae and our vulnerable community,” Morgan said.

Tūhourangi decided to make its own stand on behalf of its iwi and hapu of Te Arawa and let the government know that under no circumstances will it accept a MIQ.

Te Arawa backing

Te Arawa Covid Response Hub chair Monty Morrison supports Tūhorangi and its letter and also the letters from other groups of the community. “Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue, the community, the Lakes District Health Board all have sent letters of concern and we support them all. They have let the prime minister and the government know their concerns,” Morrison says.

 Asked for comment, the Ministry of Business said it was still in the early stages of investigating potential options, including in Rotorua and Christchurch but no decisions had been made.

“We have identified hotels that could potentially be suitable and we are now engaging with them and with key local stakeholders. Due to commercial sensitivity, we will not be naming the hotels.”

The ministry said there were a lot of complex issues that needed to be considered for operating MIQ facilities, including workforce supply to support its operations, suitability of the hotels, plus proximity to hospital facilities and appropriate transport hubs.

This is why Rotorua and Christchurch were being investigated as a potential option, rather than more remote locations.

Tūhouragi Ngāti Wāhiao will be protesting on Saturday, September 25 against the potential fourth MIQ in Rotorua. Members will meet outside Te Rau Aroha wharekai which is next to the Holiday Inn Tūhourangi is trying to stop becoming the next MIQ in Rotorua.