Coronavirus: Grant Robertson says more than 100 people attending tangi in Christchurch 'disappointing'

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says he's "disappointed" after reports more than 100 people attended a tangi under alert level 3 restrictions.

Stuff reported that grieving family members attended the tangi of 63-year-old Koroheke Pohomare Honore Brennan in Christchurch, who died in late March of liver cancer, on Thursday. According to the report, more than 100 people attended.

Under alert level 3, tangis and funerals are permitted with a maximum of 10 people.

"I think everybody will understand just how difficult this issue is," Robertson said when asked about the matter at Friday's press conference.

"We're going to have people in our lives who we know who are potentially going to be facing the loss of a family member or a friend at this time and it's incredibly hard. We've put the rules in place we had around limiting people who go to tangihanga [and] who go to funerals for good public health reasons. 

"In the particular case that's here, the family said about having a tangi with only 10 or fewer people attending, and it blew out to a larger number. That's really disappointing."

Robertson said the rules had been put in place in consultation with groups in the Māori community.

"We urge people in really difficult circumstances to stick to the rules here," he said. "I'm sure the police will take a compassionate approach but the rules are the rules and people do need to stand by them."

Earlier, Robertson fired a warning to Kiwis after reports people were having house parties under alert 3 restrictions.

There had been 325 reports of mass gatherings since New Zealand entered alert level 3 late Monday, he said.

Grant Robertson.
Grant Robertson. Photo credit: Getty

"I have two clear messages for anyone considering [attending a house party]. First, cancel your plans now," he told reporters. "Secondly, be aware that the police will be particularly taking a dim view of this activity as part of their level 3 enforcement activity this weekend."

Earlier on Friday, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay revealed there were three new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand with no new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

New Zealand has had 1479 cases of the virus, and the death toll stands at 19.