Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara Sonny Mana Daniel: Close the border entirely

Saturday March 28, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

It is sad that we took too long to act on the pandemic threat posed by coronavirus – a threat already well established throughout the world and yet even up until a few weeks ago we were still dithering on the matter of allowing cruise ships to offload their passengers onto our pristine islands.


Aitutaki was decisive but the actions allowing cruise ships to visit Rarotonga meant that some of those tourists made their way to Aitutaki on flights anyway.

Finally, action was taken last week to close the borders and to isolate the Pa Enua – we have yet to see if this has been effective. Meantime we have potential cases in Rarotonga.

It does not take much imagination to understand what this could mean if sleeper contacts are already in our midst.

The approach to quarantine appears to be very uneven with some taking it very seriously while others are either casual or non-compliant – these people are risking our lives and ought to be either deported or incarcerated.

It is satisfying to hear that government has enforced far stricter penalties for failure to comply.

Our Health Ministry has been exemplary in its approach to public health education regarding the Covid-19 virus. Dr Aumea, our nurses and doctors are now on the front line of both treatment and prevention – they deserve our support.

One way the government could do this immediately would be by the establishment of a high-level advisory group comprising experienced scientific and medical professionals, those more than capable of devising strategies for dealing with pandemics.

While it is tempting to suggest that Government should effectively close the borders immediately, I am realistic enough to know we must also work carefully for the sake of our economic survival – to reopen these, but only as soon as it is absolutely safe to do so.

This is why I am suggesting a high-level advisory group to liaise with the same group currently advising the New Zealand government and which has led to the most radical and yet pre-emptive decisions giving priority to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

Te Atua te Aroa

Vaikai Mataiapo Tutara Sonny Mana Daniel

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