Plans for borders at the Bay of Islands canned, Tai Tokerau Border Control and police measures revealed

Plans for borders at the Bay of Islands canned, Tai Tokerau Border Control and police measures revealed

Bay of Islands holidaymakers can enjoy the Northland gem this summer after planned border control measures were scrapped.

Instead, Tai Tokerau Border Control and Northland police look set to join forces to ensure visitors to the region have valid vaccine passes or recent negative Covid tests.

An email leaked on Monday to media outlets including the Advocate revealed Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi’s hopes to re-establish last year’s roadblocks when Auckland opens on December 15.

They told Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, police, Northland District Health Board, and local iwi groups they were discussing enforcing a hard border at Oromahoe Rd south of Ōpua, down to the Russell Ferry and Puketona in the north-east – ultimately severing visitor access to Ōpua, Waitangi, Russell, and Paihia.

But Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi’s border control plans were canned following a video conference on Tuesday evening to discuss their Covid response.

In a statement provided to the Advocate, Waitangi marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha said the person who leaked the email had acted independently of their hapū members.

“Her stand to protect our whakapapa is admirable and that genuine intention deserves acknowledgement,” he said.

“These are very challenging times which substantiates the unprecedented concerns about the safety and wellbeing of our community.”

Instead of a hard border in the Bay of Islands, hapū members had opted to help Tai Tokerau Border Control and police check summer visitors were complying with travel criteria.

“They are planning to establish an operation south of Whangārei whereby travellers will be checked for vaccine passports and negative Covid tests before coming north for a holiday,” Taituha said.

“As that will be an authorised, organised and resourced operation, we see no reason for setting up minor border controls in Ōpua or Puketona which lay south and west of our hapū’s ancestral boundaries.”

Plans for borders at the Bay of Islands canned, Tai Tokerau Border Control and police measures revealed

Tai Tokerau Border Control will be back in action at midnight on December 15 alongside police south of Whangārei. Photo / Peter de Graaf

As of December 15, Northland holidaymakers would be checked up until January 17 when the Government is scheduled to review the country’s traffic light settings.

Taituha hoped his statement soothed concerns over border control in the Bay of Islands.

“We understand the social, economic, cultural and political impacts Covid is having on everyone’s state of being,” he said.

“It is our hope that this communication offers clarity and brings closure to these matters.”

Tai Tokerau Border Control co-coordinator Rueben Taipari said they were currently on their way to Kerikeri to confirm the finer details with Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill.

He said the rough plans were for TTBC and Northland police to man the portion of State Highway 1 at Uretiti, north of the Waipū turnoff.

The Advocate is yet to confirm whether the operation will be run as a formal checkpoint or will be a case of random spot checks.

“At midnight on the 15th of December when the border opens, we will be standing there with police at that time.”

Plans for borders at the Bay of Islands canned, Tai Tokerau Border Control and police measures revealed

Details of the planned Tai Tokerau Border Control and police operation south of Whangārei are yet to be confirmed. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Taipari appreciated the collaboration between TTBC and police had evolved and improved since Covid first landed in the region.

“It was always interrupted from the higher authorities that police have to answer to but Northland police have been great to work with. We’re fortunate to have a regional commander like Tony.”

But a greater collaboration was needed as Northland battled the virus.

“It’s going to take the Government, our communities themselves – commercial communities, iwi, economic communities, hapū. Everybody needs to be a part of the solution,” Taipari said.

Plans for borders at the Bay of Islands canned, Tai Tokerau Border Control and police measures revealed

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