Northland settlement of Mitimiti preparing for those wanting to return home

The Delta outbreak has left whanau and friends separated by a hard border to protect Northland's 240,000 population, which is still trying to raise vaccination rates across the region.

Just over 80 percent of Northland's population is fully vaccinated, which means the region will remain in the red zone into 2022. However holidaymakers are still expected to flock in the thousands to enjoy the festive season there.

Mitimiti in the Hokianga is prepared and ready for those who are wanting to return home.

"I'd love to see our whānau return home. I'm happy to stand over the fence and talk to them over the fence, would love to go and give them a hug. But if we can't do that, it's better than a Zoom call," says local resident Andrew Kendall, who has been actively part of the discussions for Mitimiti and their COVID plan heading into the summer holidays.

Mitimiti has set out to let both vaccinated and unvaccinated return home, but there are expectations to be met.

"If you come into the marae, if you're feeling sick, don't come. If you're unvaccinated, make sure that you've got a test and some proof that you're clear".

Kendall's two aunties and older brother from Auckland wasted no time heading home, and they've made sure they've taken every precaution before their visit.

"I'm double-vaccinated, and before we came up the three of us went and got a negative COVID test to make sure that we're safe for the whānau that live here," says holidaymaker Harry Kendall.

Made with support from Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.