Covid 19 coronavirus: Māori Party won’t go to Waitangi commemorations amid virus concerns

The Māori Party is taking a “cautious approach” and will not attend Waitangi Day commemorations in the Bay of Islands this year, its co-leaders have revealed.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi said they cancelled their plans given the potential for Covid-19 to spread in the Te Tai Tokerau, Northland, region.

“We will err on the side of caution and will continue to do so until our people are vaccinated and we can minimise the risk of spreading the virus,” Ngarewa-Packer said.

She said the decision came after advice from iwi in the North.

The pair will, however, still commemorate the day.

Ngarewa-Packer said there were wonderful commemoration events around the country that the Māori Party would have a presence at.

Waititi said it was a shame he and Ngarewa-Packer would not be travelling to Waitangi this year.

“But there’s nothing more important than the protection of whakapapa and ensuring we don’t increase the risk of community transmission.”

He acknowledged and supported the actions of Tai Tokerau iwi who have re-established community checkpoints to discourage inter-regional travel while there is a risk of community transmission in the North.

Those checkpoints were this morning shut down by police soon after they were opened.
Waititi said iwi had been “outstanding in taking the lead to protect their people on the first outbreak”.

“We have the utmost faith in whatever decision they make this time around.

“In making this decision we are clear that we will always stand by iwi – they have the mana to determine the tikanga to keep our people safe.”

On Sunday, it was revealed one person who had left MIQ in Auckland had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. They have since recovered.

But yesterday, the Ministry of Health revealed two more people who had been released from the Pullman Hotel MIQ had also tested positive.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said today the new cases were a father and his young daughter from Auckland’s North Shore.

But he said there was still no evidence of community transmission.

New Zealand would have a “very good picture” tomorrow as to whether there had been community transmission, he said.

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