Government blanked Northland mayors on lockdown

Jacinda Ardern’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet consulted Northland’s three Labour MPs but not Northland’s mayors before extending the region’s level 4 lockdown.

“This was a contentious lockdown for many Northlanders, especially when Northland had no positive cases and many businesses and communities suffered,” says Dr Shane Reti, National list MP based in Whangarei.

“Ministerial answers show Northland mayors were ‘told’ that Northland was staying at level 4 with Auckland 30 minutes before the announcement, yet iwi and the Labour three Northland MPs – Kelvin Davis, Willow-Jean Prime and Emily Henderson were ‘extensively engaged’ 24 hours beforehand.

“The purpose of the meetings was ‘to cover potential boundary considerations for Auckland/Northland, locations, checkpoints, compliance, travel permissions and community needs arising at COVID-19, Alert Level 4’.

“Northland mayors could have made important contributions to lockdown boundaries, checkpoints and community need, and chambers of commerce and small businesses are also key stakeholders.

“Even worse, a week previously – and just a few days into lockdown – a similar meeting had been held with iwi. Again, the mayors were not invited.

“The Prime Minister’s office should explain why it saw fit to brief its three Labour MPs but not Northland’s three mayors.

“The Labour MPs also need to answer why they didn’t involve the mayors, and the Prime Minister needs to reassure Northlanders that this was not a spiteful politicisation of Covid, given Northland’s mayors have been vocal in opposition to the Government’s Three Waters proposals.”

You can read answers to Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQs) below:

Reply 37642 (2021) has been answered to Dr Shane Reti 13 Sept 2021
Portfolio: COVID-19 Response (Hon Chris Hipkins)

Who in Northland, if anyone, was told before the announcement on Friday Aug 27 2021 that Northland would stay in level 4 with Auckland, listed by person or organisation notified and date, time and mechanism by which they were notified ?

Reply: Officials have engaged extensively with Northland stakeholders throughout the current COVID-19 outbreak response. Leading to the Cabinet consideration of alert levels on 27 August 2021, officials from the COVID-19 Group within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) held the following meetings: - Friday, 20 August 2021, and again on Thursday 26 August 2021, DPMC and Te Arawhiti officials met via Zoom calls with the Chairs or Chief Executives from all Northern, Auckland, Coromandel/Waikato Iwi. - Thursday, 26 August 2021, DPMC officials engaged with Northland Members of Parliament (MPs) via Zoom call. The MPs were: Hon Kelvin Davis, Willow Jean-Prime and Marja Lubeck. The purpose of these meetings were to cover potential boundary considerations for Auckland/Northland, locations, checkpoints, compliance, travel permissions and community needs arising at COVID-19, Alert Level 4. On Friday, 27 August 2021, between 2:30pm and 3:30pm, with the awareness of Ministers, the COVID-19 Group engaged with Northland Mayors, via Zoom call. The Mayors engaged were Dr Jason Smith (Kaipara District), Sheryl Mai (Whangarei District) and John Carter QSO (Far North District). During this meeting, Northland Mayors were informed of the Cabinet decision for Northland to remain at level 4 with Auckland, prior to the Prime Ministers announcement.

Reply 40368 (2021) has been answered to Dr Shane Reti Sept 20 2021
Portfolio: Prime Minister

Question: Further to 37800(2021) which chairs or CEs were on the zoom calls on Friday 20 and 27 August and what communications, if any, describe invitations to the calls ?

Reply: I understand the Zoom calls regarding the alert level boundaries were hosted by DPMC and Te Arawhiti on 20 and 26 August 2021, referenced in our response to written question 37800 (2021), were broken down by area, Northland, Auckland, and Coromandel- Waikato, and invited Chairs and/or Chief Executives from the following groups or Iwi: Ngāpuhi Ngāti Hine Ngāti Kahu Ngāti Kuri Ngāti Whātua (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua and Ngā Maunga Whakahii) Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa Te Aupōuri Te Rarawa Te Roroa Te Uri o Hau Ngāi Takoto Ngāti Wai Ngaati Whanaunga Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Ngāti Hinerangi Ngāti Koheriki Ngāti Maru Ngāti Paoa Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea Ngāti Tamaoho Ngāti Te Ata Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Te Ākitai Waiohua Te Kawerau ā Maki Hako Ngāti Hauā Ngāti Hei Ngāti Porou ki Hauraki Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu Ngāti Tamaterā Ngāti Tara Tokanui Raukawa Te Patukirikiri Waikato-Tainui Ngāti Korokī Kahukura Ngāi Te Rangi Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranginui Ngāti Pukenga Ngāti Hinerangi Invitations to these particular zoom hui detailed the purpose of these meetings was to seek feedback on the potential impact to the community of the different boundary options that were being considered. With regards to the Ministerial zoom calls with the National Iwi Chairs Forum and other Iwi (who are not members of the NICF) - these zoom calls began from Friday 20 August and have taken place weekly since then. Invitations are extended to all Iwi within the National Iwi Chairs Forum and separately to other Iwi (who are not members of the NICF). No record of attendees was kept. Invites to these hui outline that these zooms are an opportunity to engage with the Crown around issues Iwi are seeing on the ground and how the Crown could support them.