From Penk’s Pen

On a hot Sunday afternoon many residents spent literally hours sitting in traffic trying to make their way back home.
It seems so long ago now but this was the first day of the latest Auckland lockdown. The regional restrictions had been announced the previous evening and fair enough too. What happened the following day, however, was not fair enough.
I received reports of considerable distress and discomfort for constituents stuck in a seemingly endless waiting game, through no fault of their own. Livestock being transported fared badly, with animal welfare surely badly compromised, to put it mildly. Humans travelling those same roads experienced the indignity of having to “make do” by the side of the road after several hours without toilet facilities. And of course there was no supply of food, water or other such necessities available to man or beast.
How did this situation arise and was it avoidable? Some of the decision making around the border of Northland and Auckland (and the southern equivalent) was bizarre. To everyone trapped in overheated vehicles, the most perplexing – and indeed infuriating– aspect was the officials’ decision to stop and check cars entering the region. It was understandable to check those seeking to exit Auckland, certainly, where a higher Alert Level had been imposed but not the other way around.
Resources should have been applied entirely to the more logical need, which would have enabled waiting times to be cut in half. Some might say that it’s unreasonable for me to highlight this failure of the system. For one thing, though, it’s my duty as an elected representative to give voice to the frustration of my constituents and others adversely affected by authorities’ decision making. For another, this wasn’t the first regional lockdown experienced by Auckland. In fact it was the third.
The following day I wrote to the Minister for Covid19 Response, asking him how he plans to ensure that this situation will not ever arise again.
As I said in my letter, “I would like to be able to relay to my constituents some measure of assurance that they will not be forced to endure so many hours of stress and/or physical strain on another occasion that Auckland may be placed in lockdown unexpectedly”.
Take care out there and hopefully we won’t have to go through that again!
Chris Penk MP
Kaipara ki Mahurangi electorate

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