Auckland kava drinking groups continue to meet despite lockdown

Source: 1News

Kava groups, some at churches, are continuing to congregate and livestream  meetups during the country’s lockdown.

It’s estimated there are more than 100 kava groups in Auckland alone where sharing of cups and food is commonplace.

Kava group get-togethers in South Auckland have been broadcast live on Facebook over the past week.

Kava Club meets have been cancelled for now but some members are continuing to mingle in private homes and even on church grounds.

Auckland Tongan community president Malakai Koloamatangi says he has tried to enforce the Govenrment's rules. 

“I have heard of churches where people have congregated to drink kava. I am part of the Fofoagna Club which is the biggest kava club in New Zealand and I’ve had people ringing and I have to keep telling them 'no, no its a lockdown you can’t come here',” he says.

Tongan newspaper editor, Ulu’alo Po’uila says kava parties are high-risk with people sitting close together and sharing cups.

“If you go down there and get infected at the kava party and infect your own family to me that is unforgivable,” he says.

The concern is the potential spread of Covid-19 amongst a high-risk Pasifika community and it's already starting to show ominous signs.

In just four days the number has nearly doubled from 12 positive cases on Sunday to 23 today.

Community leaders say kava drinkers do a lot of good such as fundraising but it’s hard to get the seriousness of the situation across to them.

“Kava drinkers live in their own world and to penetrate that world is very difficult - to even talk to kava drinkers you have to have the right approach,” says Mr Koloamatangi.