Coronavirus: Government orders border exemption review after two women flee Auckland for Blenheim

The Government has asked officials to review its border exemption system after two women managed to leave Auckland and ended up in COVID-free Blenheim. 

Aucklanders Dongyun Yang and Yongxiu Su were both arrested and appeared in court on Thursday charged with failing to comply with COVID rules and not having the correct documentation.

The border bungle that allowed the pair to leave the city has upset Marlborough Mayor John Leggett. 

"We've got these borders in place for a very good reason and to think some people can selfishly put that aside for their own purposes is pretty disappointing," he says.

The Government has now asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment - the agency that deals with border exemptions - to "have a look" at its systems. 

"To take another look at their processes to make sure they are working as well as they can."

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is unsure how they could've crossed the border.

"That's still being investigated, so I don't have the exact information on that. I want to note that both of them have tested negative," he says.

This is not the first case of its kind after another woman made it to Whangarei with an associate. Hone Harawira, who is part of the Te Tai Tokerau border control, says it isn't good enough.

"If those two ladies came north, and now a couple have headed down to Blenheim, clearly there's something wrong."

He wants iwi at the decision-making table.

"You can't just say to a department 'fix it up' and the department fix it up because they got it wrong in the first place," he says.

Iwi have played a role on the northern borders, but Harawira says it's mainly an observation role at some sites, like Te Hana, and he's noticed plenty of questionable scenarios like people coming through with jet skis and fishing gear in trailers.

"Coming up to check on your orchards is not actually an essential service, especially if you're going to go fishing after you've looked at your orchards for 10 minutes."

He wants strict borders, because preventing the spread of Delta to other regions depends on them.