COVID-19: New Zealand First leader Winston Peters lashes out after lockdown measures imposed on Northland

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has come out swinging at the latest COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed on Northland last week.

The region was plunged into a snap alert level three lockdown on Friday after a positive case breached the Auckland boundary and refused to cooperate with officials.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says officials haven't "at this stage, necessarily, been able to fully establish" why the infected woman travelled to Northland.

Northland-based Peters, Ardern's former Deputy Prime Minister, told The AM Show the system is a shambles.

"We're in lockdown without a case at all - Katikati's got a case and they're not in lockdown."

The Katikati case Peters was referring to has since tested negative for COVID-19. The case was detected on Saturday - they got tested while in Auckland on Friday and it returned positive while they were in Katikati, near Tauranga. They were in the process of moving to the area. 

Peters said the Northland situation was significant.

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

"We're living in a situation which is very, very serious in terms of this country's health and this country's economy."

He also renewed his suspicions the Northland case was linked to gangs after first making the claims at the weekend. 

"Was there any association between the Mongrel Mob and these two women? ...  In terms of the health of Northlanders, we should know that now," Peters told The AM Show on Monday. 

The Prime Minister reiterated there's no evidence the case was gang-linked.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

"Essentially, none of it relates to claims around working for gangs or anything like that - as far as I am aware," she said.

But the case angered Northland residents and National Party deputy leader Shane Reti, who's based in Whangārei, said the Auckland boundary clearly needed to be tightened.

"There's also a degree of anger - a degree of anger that we've been put in this position where the border was not protected, we didn't have rapid antigen testing," Dr Reti said. "There's a mix of emotions and feelings here in Northland," he told Newshub.

The ACT Party also called for accountability and action over the Northland lockdown.

"Somebody has done something seriously wrong and 120,000 Northlanders are paying dearly for it," leader David Seymour said on Sunday

"All Northland is in lockdown because one person's movements cannot be traced."

New Zealand reported 60 new community cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, nearly double Saturday's tally. However, no more infections have been detected in Northland since the snap lockdown was announced on Friday.

All of the new cases were found in Auckland apart from three in Waikato and the infection in the Bay of Plenty, which is now not a case.

The latest Ministry of Health data shows 77,274 people in Northland are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 out of an eligible 164,526 people, representing about 46 percent. 

"Given our low vaccination rates it is imperative that we stop any potential spread of COVID-19 in its tracks," Northland District Health Board acting chief executive Jeanette Wedding said.

In total, there have been 1587 cases in New Zealand's Delta outbreak.