If Ardern’s lights let you drive to the Bay of Islands, you will be halted by no-go areas imposed by tribal leaders

Monitoring the Ministers – 

Whee!  Vaccinated New Zealanders can look forward to Kiwi summer events with confidence….

Those were the opening words of a press statement from Carmel Sepuloni. speaking as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage about the launch of details of the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme.

But don’t count on the new ”traffic lights” system of Covid-19 control being a sure guide to where you can go and which events you can attend.  The system is causing confusion in the north and in the south.

Moreover, the Ardern government – a champion of co-governance – isn’t the only authority with regulatory muscle to flex in the Land of the Long-reaching Treaty.  A Maori tribe in the Bay of Islands plans to block off the popular Northland tourist destination to visitors this summer.

 This casts a cloud over Sepuloni’s press statement boast that the  the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme is about providing certainty for event organisers, confidence for vaccinated New Zealanders to attend and enjoy events, and reassurance for artists and crew that they can get paid if their events can’t go ahead as planned.

But one thing is for sure:  under the scheme, all of us will be chipping in to pay for these events, even if we don’t attend them.

The magnitude of the sum involved is mentioned further down the press statement.

The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme covers events with attendee capacity of 100-5000 ticketed or un-ticketed, or more than 5000 un-ticketed (i.e. free).  The scheme covers unrecoverable costs, payments yet to be made to the likes of artists and production crew, and reasonable costs to the promoter or organiser for the planning and development of the event.

The government’s $374 million COVID recovery package for the sector, including the $37.5 million Emergency Relief Package announced in September, underlines the social, economic and cultural value of the sector, Sepuloni said.

She then turned her hand to touting tickets:  

“I encourage New Zealanders to get out, enjoy the Kiwi summer and the freedoms it’ll bring, book tickets, make plans to attend events and support local artists, musicians and shows…”

The registration process for event organisers who intend dipping into Sepuloni’s trough opens at 12pm Wednesday December 1.  To register for the scheme,  visit this page on the Manatū Taonga website.

But which events in which parts of the country we will be able to attend (provided we can flash our vaccination passports) is subject to the colour of the lights flashing from place to place under the so-called traffic lights system.

The PM told us yesterday the levels at which different parts of New Zealand will move forward into the COVID-19 Protection Framework this Friday have been announced.

  • Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move in at Red
  • The rest of the North Island will move in at Orange
  • The whole of the South Island will move in at Orange
  • A cautious approach is being taken initially as we transition into the new framework

“We’ve vaccinated a significant portion of the team of 5 million, and now is the time to move to a new framework,” the PM enthused.”


“The certainty and stability of the traffic lights replaces the sudden lockdowns and restrictions of Alert Levels. Our schools will stay open at every colour and businesses will have protection through My Vaccine Passes to keep operating.” 

A raft of related documents throw more light on the matter:

The PMs statement doesn’t mention the unconscionable rush of legislation to pave the way for the installation of the traffic lights.

Let’s turn to law professor Andrew Geddis who writes:

“I’m not alone in regarding this lawmaking process as being a “constitutional disgrace”, as my VUW colleague Dean Knight has so appositely put it. I mean, let’s go back to the last time we had major legislation put in place to govern the creation of a new system of Covid controls – the enactment of the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, back in the now-halcyon days of our first national lockdown. At the time, I criticised the “ridiculous speed” with which it became law after the bill had been made available for some comment 18 hours before its introduction and then debated over a full two-day period. Now, having had the chance to reflect on that lawmaking process, the government appears to have decided on a “more cowbell” approach and moved even more quickly when enacting its new Covid-19 Response (Vaccinations Legislation) Bill.”


“Remember, this is a bill that authorises the government to set constraints on who can and cannot take part in large parts of social life for the foreseeable future, that specifically permits it to require people in certain occupations to be vaccinated, and that is going to authorise other workplaces to decide if their employees have to be vaccinated or else lose their jobs. It’s getting pretty close to effectively mandating that people accept a vaccination, even if it isn’t imposing direct penalties on them for not doing so.

Geddis was especially outraged that those who will lose many rights under this law could not submit on it.

“No wonder they become angry and do marches that breach lockdown rules.

“Indeed, if you were trying to construct a lawmaking process to set off the conspiracy minded and undermine the social licence needed for success, it would look something like this. Hide the information that’s informed your legislation, introduce it at the very last moment, whip it through the House overnight, and present it as a fait accompli the next day.”

But travel constrains are being imposed in Northland regardless of the vaccination status of Kiwis who venture there.  

In a leaked email to 1News, Te Tii Waitangi ki Te Pēwhairangi told Government authorities – including the District Health Board, police and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – that they have been discussing the reestablishment of their Covid-19 border for when the Auckland borders are lifted on December 15 and asked for their support

We should not assume the tribe will be guided by the government authorities.  

The 1News report goes on:

The iwi group will be holding a video conference on Tuesday evening to confirm their Covid protection plans – “details of which will be forwarded to authorities”, the email from the iwi group stated.

This exercise in policing for Maori by Maori comes after 1News reported a tribe further north, on the Karikari Peninsula, forced the closure of the Department of Conservation campground at Maitai Bay for the summer, preventing access to the boat ramp and beaches.

The interesting word there is “forced”.  

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