Vulnerable Far North community battens down the hatches to ward off coronavirus

It was remote to begin with but now the tiny village of Te Hapua in the Far North is completely cut off from the outside world.

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The village of Te Hapua has a strict no-entry policy. Source: 1 NEWS

Locals have a strict no entry policy, even turning away walkers on the beach. They say the last pandemic to hit their community was devastating.

Only 200 people live in Te Hapua, the country’s northern-most community.

“We created four bubbles and we put teams around those bubbles to be able to distribute food, not food packages but food rations that allow whānau not to have to travel out of those areas,” says Sheridan Waitai, Ngāti Kuri Iwi leader.

A video captured by an iwi worker shows one of the many deliveries being made to households so no-one has to leave.

Food rations are designed to last three days. .

Just up the road, 1 NEWS was allowed past the road block to see food delivered in neighbouring Te Paki.

Iwi member Joyce has to be extra careful, with a family member suffering cystic fibrosis, a condition affecting the lungs.

Ngāti Kuri communities went into lockdown four days ahead of the rest of the country.

"People who live here, they are the extremes, they are either very old or really young, so we are more vulnerable than non-Māori," says local, Robert Akuhata. 

Communication is a problem for Far North remote communities. Internet is limited if available at all.

Many households don't have televisions or phones so online services such as Skype, internet banking and shopping simply isn't an option.

A main road block north of Kaitaia on State Highway 1 is where locals say outsiders are testing the boundaries.

"We have a mass grave at our cemetery with our ancestors names on it from the last pandemic so of course we are scared," says Ms Waitai.