Tai Tokerau Border Control denies Northland COVID-19 checkpoints were obstructing travellers

The checkpoints have since been lifted in favour of police spot checks.
The checkpoints have since been lifted in favour of police spot checks. Photo credit: Hone Harawira/Facebook

Tai Tokerau Border Control regional coordinator Reuben Taipari is denying Northland's iwi-led checkpoint was designed to obstruct travellers from entering the region.

Taipari told Newstalk ZB the checkpoints, which has since been lifted in favour of police spot checks, were "successful" and acted as a "form of defence". 

"COVID is rocking the world and we've got to take it seriously because it's summertime… Mainly, what we're really happy about is that everybody came through double vaxxed - 99 percent came through double vaxxed or had their negative test and that just says the campaign that we drove out there was a successful one."

Tai Tokerau Border Control was assisting the police in stopping vehicles to check COVID-19 vaccine passes or proof of a negative test at Northland's checkpoints.

Those checkpoints came into effect on Wednesday, the same day Auckland's border lifted. Iwi had requested the checkpoints to protect Northland's people during the summer period, due to the region's low COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

But police said on Sunday the level of compliance was "extremely high" and announced the checkpoints would be removed - instead, officers would complete "regular roving patrols" across Northland. 

Taipari said Tai Tokerau Border Control would continue working with the police.

"We're going to stay right in there and work with the police right through the summer, whether it's these new scenarios of mobile patrols or whatever it is that's out there, just to make sure that message and that campaign is taken seriously - to take COVID seriously," he told Newstalk ZB.

Northland District Commander Supt Tony Hill said only a small number of vehicles were turned around from Northland after the Auckland border opened.

"We want to reassure our communities right across Northland that police have plans in place to monitor ongoing compliance of those travelling into Northland," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"It's important that we support our most at-risk communities and help keep them safe by monitoring ongoing compliance around the region."