When Auckland’s borders reopen next week, some police will be deployed to monitor checkpoints in Northland instead, however the Police Association boss says officers are “running out of steam”.
Police and iwi will be working together to establish two short-term checkpoints south of Whangārei from December 15.
Over 70 officers will take on the 24/7 operation when the borders around Auckland are lifted.
Ahead of the move, Chris Cahill, police association president on Wednesday morning warned frontline staff were already stretched.
“They’re running out of steam to be perfectly honest. They've been at these borders since August full time 24/7 and they’ve just had enough to be honest they want to get back to normality, back to their families,” Cahill said.
“And remember there’s all this other police work going on that they've had to do, the family violence, the mental health they’re all through the roof at the same time.”
He said there has been around 75 officers on a rotation being taken out of other districts.
“We’ve also got MIQ facilities that police staff are in, so it's just stretching the resources around the country.
“It might not sound many but across those two operations, borders and MIQ its about 600 frontline staff that have to be found from somewhere else.”
Northland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in New Zealand, which has resulted in a joint operation for summer between iwi and police checking travellers heading into the region are fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
Cahill aired his concerns over the move and said “very few people” would be getting turned around.
However, last Thursday when police confirmed they would be working with iwi at the Northland checkpoints, it was said they would have “a low tolerance for people attempting to travel north without meeting the requirements”.
On Friday Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he was confident police and iwi would work well together at the checkpoints.
He said police “know to do this” and have “worked closely with the community before”.
Eighty seven per cent of Northlanders have had one dose of the vaccine so far, and 79 per cent are fully vaccinated.