Coronavirus: Kiwis have 'nothing to fear' from Rotorua quarantine returnees - Tāmati Coffey

Labour MP Tāmati Coffey says New Zealanders have "nothing to fear" from the Kiwis returning from overseas into managed isolation and quarantine in Rotorua.

It follows a Facebook post from National Party MP for Rotorua Todd McClay, where he said it was "outrageous" travellers were moved to the Bay of Plenty city at short notice and "under the cover of darkness" to complete their isolation period.

Auckland's quarantine facilities are at capacity, meaning returnees needed to be moved elsewhere for quarantine.

McClay says "up to three busloads" of people were driven to Rotorua on Saturday between 10pm and midnight. He adds they were met by police and army personnel and are now in two CBD hotels.

"Jacinda Ardern's Government didn't bother to tell anyone about this and have given zero guarantees or assurances over local health and safety. So far they remain silent," he posted on Sunday afternoon.

Comments on his post were mixed, but many called out the hypocrisy of McClay's and National's stance on borders and quarantine.

"National, you wanted our restrictions lifted way sooner. National, you wanted international trade and tourism back for economic purposes. Now you're jumping up and down that people are coming into our country again," one wrote.

But others believe there are downsides to having a COVID-19 quarantine facility in Rotorua.

"This will stop Kiwi tourists coming to Rotorua. Dangerous having them near a primary school and Rotorua's Eat Street. What a foolish place to have these possible carriers of COVID-19. Why pick on our little town?" a person commented.

Coffey - who is the MP for Waiariki, which covers Rotorua - posted two videos to Facebook on Sunday evening about returnees in the city. Although he didn't directly name or address McClay's comments, he added the hashtag "#facts" to both video captions.

"I've spoken today with a lot of our community leaders around Rotorua and what we've said is we're happy to be able to play our part to serve our own - they're our people in [the hotels]."

He added the amount of army personnel will help with enforcing high isolation standards.

"We've got the military in there as well. Bit of an overkill, but hey, we've got to keep those quarantine standards up. And actually I'm happy for it, because I know that our people here on the ground will know that this is an issue we're taking seriously."

A commenter under one of his videos suggested "someone relay that [message] to Todd McClay", and another said there's always two sides to each story.

"It's all about uniting against COVID and working together. Nga mihi Rotorua," they wrote.

Another person commented they hope the virus doesn't spread from the managed isolation facilities.

"So long as no one in Rotorua contacts the virus from anyone in quarantine, kei te pai, but if someone does, we don't want to listen to excuses."

Travellers were reportedly "shocked" when they arrived in Auckland and placed on a bus, only to be told 15 minutes into the journey they were going to Rotorua instead.

One passenger named Connor told RNZ everyone expected to be taken to an Auckland hotel.

"I know a lot of people were shocked, some were in a little panic, but once we settled into the bus ride everybody calmed down and accepted that we were coming to Rotorua."

He said people knew and understood Auckland hotels used for quarantine were at-capacity and they needed to go somewhere else.