The message is staunch from local frontline checkpoint volunteers - “stay put, noho ki te kainga!”
In response to government covid-19 Alerts local community leaders in the rural areas of Tairawhiti East Coast have
implemented Tairawhiti Covid-19 Community Safety Checkpoints - local volunteers working to reduce the risk of infection
spread to our large population of vulnerable whanau.
The response was raised from local’s concern about our high population of kaumatua (elderly) and tamariki (Children),
the lack of doctors and accessibility to health services in our region. Checkpoints have been discussed with local
police, fire services, Ngati Porou Hauora, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Board members and Gisborne District Council.
Strict safety protocols are adhered to by volunteers to ensure their personal safety.
Wharekahika/Hicks Bay co-ordinator Tina Ngata says we are learning from whanau overseas where if they had treated the
situation urgently, proactive rather than reactive the spread and death rates wouldn’t have been as dire as we are
seeing. History of pandemics and disease spread have dramatically affected our communities in the past and we don’t look
to see a repeat.
Te Araroa co-ordinator Deina WiRepa says these checkpoints are informative not authorative. Sharing the latest
information, providing context to people, so that they support our efforts of keeping our whanau safe which is our
priority. While our volunteers put themselves at risk, these checkpoints are proving their worth to educate and urge
people the risk they place on themselves and others by their actions.
Volunteers are finding visitors are still travelling freely even with the constant messaging of the governments Covid-19
Level 4 Alert. Most are free independent travellers, so may not be accessing media channels. Some challenge the
legalities of these checkpoints. Some whanau are casual in their response visiting other whanau or going for a drive due
Ruatorea co-ordinator Tui Warmenhoven says now with the first case in Tairawhiti reported it’s even more important to
remain vigilant – there are too many whanau travelling back and fourth to the shops, please coordinate one shopper to
get what you need for your ‘whanau bubble’. There is a concern that whanau are returning home from major cities to
isolate but the message is stay where you are to reduce pressure on local services and supplies to local shops.
Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Board member Ani Pahuru – Huriwai says ideally we would like our checkpoint volunteers at
home safe with their whanau, but it seems some groups are not heeding the serious nature of this deadly virus.
Unfortunate that we need such measures to be in place to actively deter people. The East Coast rural communities are
clear “stay put, stay safe, be kind”.
To keep informed with the ‘Tairawhiti Covid-19 Community Safety Checkpoint’ like their page on Facebook.