Holidaymakers won't be barred from Bay of Islands over summer

Source: 1News

Travellers heading north this summer will have access to the Bay of Islands, despite a local iwi group on Tuesday proposing the area should be off-limits to protect people from Covid.

The Bay of Islands, Northland

Instead, an operation will be managed by iwi in collaboration with police, south of Whangārei, where holidaymakers will be checked for negative Covid tests and vaccine passports.

On Tuesday, a leaked email to 1News showed Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi had told authorities that they wanted 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.

However, Waitangi marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha has since confirmed that is not the case.

In a statement provided to 1News on Wednesday, Taituha said someone had acted independently by distributing that earlier correspondence.

He said the person’s “stand to protect our whakapapa”, was “admirable” and that their “genuine intention” deserved some acknowledgement.

In a meeting held on Tuesday evening, Taituha said Tai Tokerau Border Control, a group led by Hone Harawira, had confirmed it would be working with police over summer to manage visitors.

“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.

“This is consistent with Ministry of Health policy and the traffic light protection framework.”

The operation will begin on 15 December 2021 and extend through to 17 January 2022, in line with Auckland’s own border opening.

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

“We understand the social, economic, cultural and political impacts Covid is having on everyone’s state of being. It is our hope that this communication offers clarity and brings closure to these matters.”

Harawira told 1News a border would be set up near Waipu, Tai Tokerau Border Control would work with police to stop cars.

As it stands travellers need a negative Covid test or a vaccine passport - but he's working with Ministry of Health for Northland to be treated differently so people need both.