Possible crib breaches frustrate Catlins residents

An aerial photo of Papatowai, in the Catlins. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
An aerial photo of Papatowai, in the Catlins. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Catlins residents say they have been frustrated with the behaviour of crib owners during the recent Covid-19 lockdown.

A Papatowai resident, who asked not to be named, said she and fellow residents had counted eight known holiday cribs that were visited following the Level 4 lockdown announced on August 17.

Under the Alert Level 4 lockdown, people had to stay at home, leaving only for groceries, healthcare and local exercise, unless they were essential workers.
The travel restrictions remained similar for Level 3, which ended on September 1.

The source said despite those restrictions, some of the crib owners appeared to have visitors during that period, including one occasion when three separate groups gathered at one crib.

In addition, residents of other Catlins towns were identified visiting Papatowai Beach for recreation during lockdown.

Relations between permanent and visiting residents were generally excellent, she said, but the recent behaviour had been ‘‘disappointing’’.

‘‘Locals have been incredibly conservative during lockdown, as we have several elderly and vulnerable residents and an infant under the age of 1.

‘‘Obviously, the fear is the same as anywhere, that casual, non-compliant behaviour like we’ve seen could lead to Covid being introduced.

‘‘It’s very disappointing, as there’s so much more chance of avoiding that outcome if people just play by the rules.’’

She was raising the issue now in case there was another lockdown, she said.

‘‘The reality is the [Covid-19] Delta variant is likely to hit New Zealand again. We’d just like people to be a bit more thoughtful if that happens.’’

Clutha district Catlins ward councillor Dane Catherwood, an Owaka businessman, said he had observed an increase in traffic passing through the town towards Papatowai during the lockdown period.

‘‘We’ve probably had a few people turned up on the weekend who shouldn’t have, but I wouldn’t say it was excessive.

‘‘I think with the absence of cases in the South Island, people were champing at the bit and getting a bit frustrated.

‘‘It’s a bit of a shame, since locals are following the rules, when perhaps people just need to be a bit more patient.’’

Senior Sergeant Chris Wakelin, of Balclutha, said police had received no reports of lockdown breaches in the Catlins.

Neither did a series of police checkpoints for vehicles travelling across the district identify any non-compliance.

However, there were minor infractions elsewhere in the district.

‘‘We had a few issues with whitebaiting initially, as there was some misinterpretation of the specific rules around that. But we were happy with behaviours there, and more generally, once that had been clarified.’’

A policy of ‘‘education and enforcement’’ was exercised.

‘‘People are welcome to report any issues of non-compliance they identify. We did have a few pushing their luck elsewhere in the district during that period, and warnings were issued . . .’’

RICHARD.DAVISON@cluthaleader.co.nz

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