Auckland couple who flew to Wanaka charged

William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley. Photos: NZME/Supplied
William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley. Photos: NZME/Supplied
An Auckland couple who flouted lockdown rules to fly to a holiday home in Wanaka have been charged with failing to comply with a Covid-19 health order.

Police today confirmed that William Willis, a 35-year-old horse breeder from Karaka, and his partner Hannah Rawnsley, a 26-year-old barrister from Pukekohe, have been charged.

The pair sparked outrage nationwide when it was revealed they crossed a police checkpoint border in Auckland using essential worker exemptions during Alert Level 4 lockdown and drove to Hamilton Airport on Thursday, September 9.

They  then took a commercial flight to Queenstown via Wellington, rented a vehicle and drove to Wanaka.

Police said they were notified via the Covid-19 compliance reporting tool online, and found the couple at their holiday home on Saturday, September 11.

The couple agreed to return to Auckland and later issued an apology, saying they were "deeply sorry".

They had undergone routine Covid-19 testing as essential workers and tested negative for the coronavirus before and after their trip, they said.

Willis and Rawnsley were expected to appear in the Papakura District Court on October 14.

Police said they have carried out a thorough investigation into the matter.

"While we appreciate there is a high level of public interest in this case, police are unable to comment further while the matter is before the court."

Willis is the son of an Auckland District Court judge. The case will be overseen by a Wellington-based judge to avoid any conflicts of interest, the Office of the Chief District Court Judge told The New Zealand Herald.

Eighty-nine people have now been charged in Auckland with Covid-19-related offences between the start of the city’s strict Alert Level 4 lockdown last month and today, while 189 people have been given formal warnings.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that fines would be increased to up to $12,000 for Covid-19 rule breaches.

- ODT Online  and NZ Herald 

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