COVID-19: Hone Harawira calls for Northland's Christmas to be moved to February 25

Hone Harawira. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former MP Hone Harawira says Northland's Christmas should be delayed a couple of months to February 25.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all of New Zealand except Northland will be in the orange setting from December 30. It means Northland will remain in the most restrictive red setting into the new year. 

Those red restrictions will remain in place largely due to Northland's low COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

There will also be two checkpoints operating to enter Northland from Wednesday when Auckland's border lifts, where Harawira's iwi-led checkpoint group Tai Tokerau Border Control will be assisting the police in stopping vehicles to check COVID-19 vaccine passes or proof of a negative test. 

Harawira said Māori health providers and the district health board were working as hard as possible to lift vaccination rates in the region.

He told RNZ's Morning Report there were concerns about the health and wellbeing of Northland's people.

"Why don't we move Christmas for Northland to February 25 and then hopefully we'll have borders open for everybody?"

Harawira believes the Northland checkpoints are for the good of the whole region.

"It's an issue that we want to show the rest of the country that we're concerned about the health and wellbeing of the people of the north," he told Morning Report. "This is something for everybody and we welcome anybody to come and join us - we don't care if they're Pākehā, Pasifika, Māori or anything else."

He told RNZ Tai Tokerau Border Control wasn't trying to stop people entering the region - rather protect it.

Police have said officers won't be stopping every car entering Northland - rather undertaking spot checks. Travellers have been warned there may be queues when entering the region.