As we move into the traffic light system, regions with low vaccination rates are worried about what summer will bring, particularly with Auckland’s border lifting on December 15. For many iwi, they’re asking travellers to reconsider coming to their rohe (region). 

Te Tairāwhiti: ‘We will struggle to look after you if you get sick’

Ngāti Porou, in Te Tairāwhiti, wants travellers to stay away unless absolutely necessary. It does not believe its health services can cope with a potential outbreak brought by travellers. 

Vaccination rates for the region are currently at 86 percent first dose and 75 percent fully vaccinated. This is lower for Māori with 80 percent first dose and 65 percent fully vaccinated. 

“Please consider how you would feel if you brought Covid-19 on holiday with you,” Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou chairman Selwyn Parata says.

“Please remember that our region’s services will struggle to look after you and your whanau if you become unwell,” he says.

Te Kuru o Te Marama Dewes, freelance journalist in Te Tairāwhiti, says the greatest concern from the iwi is for the elderly and the children in their rohe. 

The call is for everyone to become vaccinated to protect our most vulnerable, and also encouraging those from outside this region to just think of our communities down here before they make the trip,” he says. 

Te Kuru says at the very least, extra precautions should be taken by those coming into the region. 

People should consider getting tested as a means of precaution and to minimise the risk of infection in the community even if they have vaccine passes, he says. 

“If you’re coming from Tāmaki [Auckland], it might be your first holiday in a while, but that might also make it the last summer for someone else down here,” he says.

Northland: ‘Too early to lift the Auckland border’

Te Kahu o Taonui, is a collective of iwi in Northland that came together to oppose lifting border restrictions until Māori vaccination rates reached 90 percent

Currently, Northland sits at 85 percent first dose and 76 percent fully vaccinated. Māori in the rohe are at 77 percent first dose and only 63 percent fully vaccinated. 

Ngātiwai, a separate iwi with popular destinations like Mangawhai, supports Te Kahu o Taonui and wants the Government to pause plans to open the border to Northland.    

Te Poari o Ngātiwai Chairman, Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards, says the Government does not have enough in place to ensure only double vaccinated travellers are crossing the border.

“Our Ngātiwai kāinga are holiday hotspots. We believe it is premature to open Northland’s borders when we have such low Māori vaccination rates across Northland and Auckland,” he says.

In Northland, the vaccination rate for Māori is 77 percent first dose and 63 percent fully vaccinated. 

The iwi is also concerned the region’s already vulnerable health systems would be overwhelmed if there is a significant Covid outbreak in their communities. 

Aperahama says the iwi is willing to open the border but only “when the government comes to the table to engage meaningfully with iwi of the North to plan a shared strategy”.

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