A Bay of Islands iwi has informed authorities of plans to block off the popular Northland tourist destination to visitors this summer.
In a leaked email to 1News, Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi told Government authorities - including the District Health Board, police and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - that they have been discussing the reestablishment of their Covid-19 border for when the Auckland borders are lifted on December 15 and asked for their support.
They said they want to reestablish their border south of Opua down to the Russell Ferry, and Puketona in the north-east, effectively cutting visitors off from Opua, Paihia, Waitangi and Russell.
“We are aware that we will need to with collaboratively with you all as well,” the email reads.
“At this point in time we cannot emphasise the need for as much support as you are able to provide to enable the protection of our communities in these trying times.”
The move would come as a massive blow to the local economy.
Former New Zealand First MP Shane Jones, who lives in the Bay of Islands, says it’s a misguided publicity stunt.
“The economy must be supported and jobs safeguarded. Quite bizarre, given the scores of Ngāti Rairi households whose livelihood depends on tourism and hospitality.
“Maori are resilient and don’t need this fixation with lockdowns and trying to control local businesses,“ he said.
The iwi group will be holding a video conference on Tuesday evening to confirm their Covid protection plans - “details of which will be forwarded to authorities”, the email from the iwi group stated.
The move comes after 1News reported iwi further north, on the Karikari Peninsula, forced the closure of the Department of Conservation campground at Maitai Bay for the summer, preventing access to the boat ramp and beaches.