Tonight is a shout out to everyone who left their bubbles to protect ours. Particularly Māori-led groups who have worked proactively and collaboratively alongside police, authorities and companies to support tiny vulnerable communities most high profile critics have likely never visited.
There have been few complaints about these collectives delivering food parcels and hygiene packs or running mobile testing clinics. But now critics are trying to reframe community checkpoints as a law and order issue. Some say that’s all about exploiting racist fears to score political points.
Let’s face it – if a group of Pākehā flagged down a car to dish out pamphlets on Covid, would anyone kick up a stink? We don’t when school patrols stop cars at pedestrian crossings. Or guys in high vis vests flag us down at big festivals or sports events. We appreciate that volunteers work alongside police and authorities to co-ordinate traffic management plans, to finetune health and safety procedures for everybody’s benefit.
Same with the checkpoints and community safe zones. Locals know locals – and their tricks. Police appreciate that. Last week, Police Commissioner Coster told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee there was “nothing unlawful” about police-supervised roadblocks which check that people are complying with the level 3 controls that are in place.”
Safe. Legal and co-ordinated.
Māori and iwi-led responses from the East Coast to Bay of Plenty, Murupara to Kaitaia, throughout Taranaki and elsewhere should take a bow. For acting selflessly in service of all New Zealanders. Our local response to a global pandemic is inspiring communities on the other side of the world.
Even the Human Rights Commission has described community checkpoints as “a positive example of the treaty partnership in action.” Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha told this show that “collaborating and coming together is an opportunity for all of us to reset the dial.” And it’s happening beyond the checkpoints, that’s the exciting thing.
Let’s drown out the static and build on it.
Moana Maniapoto is the host of Te Ao with MOANA, 8pm Maori TV