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'Disgustingly bullied': Woman who sparked Northland lockdown speaks

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Mar 2022, 6:42PM
Photo / Michael Cunningham
Photo / Michael Cunningham

'Disgustingly bullied': Woman who sparked Northland lockdown speaks

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Mar 2022, 6:42PM

A woman who sparked a Covid-19 lockdown in Northland last year says she felt "disgustingly bullied and helpless" over how politicians treated her. 

It comes after police ruled out charges against her and her travelling companion and Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins refused to apologise for alleging the pair had cheated their way through the border. 

On October 8 last year, Northland moved back into alert level 3, after it was revealed an Auckland woman travelling in the area had returned a positive Covid-19 test result. 

Hipkins alleged during a live press conference that evening that the woman had provided "false information" to get through the border into Northland. 

The woman returned to Auckland and was put straight in MIQ but was "refusing to co-operate with officials on her movements", according to officials. 

Days later it was revealed police were hunting for her travel companion. 

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

They said authorities had contacted her but did not know her location. 

Speculation grew that the women were prostitutes connected to a gang who were plying their trade in Northland – and that was why they were refusing to tell public health officials where they had been and who they had contact with. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appealed for the second woman to "come forward" and said health officials and police were "really pulling out all the stops" to find the traveller. 

The second woman was located at a New Lynn address hours later and also taken to MIQ. 

She told the Herald today that much of the information released about her was not true – nor were the rumours. 

Even former deputy prime minister Winston Peters was discussing the case, alleging one of the women was a sex worker who was assisted by Mongrel Mob leader Harry Tam to obtain travel documentation. 

A Covid testing centre in Whangarei in October last year. Photo / Michael Cunningham 

Tam denied this and later threatened legal action against Peters, who issued a correction and apology. 

The woman told the Herald today the pair had been "really dragged through the mud". 
"I felt disgustingly bullied and helpless." 

The woman said her daughter was "unnecessarily harassed" as a result of the politicians speaking poorly of her. 

The woman spoke at length to the Herald from quarantine last year and explained that her friend had started a new business in the building and in-home services space shortly before lockdown and had set up a number of "networking" meetings in Northland in the hopes of getting contracted for work. 

"She requested travel exemptions and gave them reasons we were going ... she had me down as an employee or assistant," the woman said. 

Police told NZME this week that after a thorough investigation was conducted into the pair's journey across the alert level 4 boundary no charges would be laid. 

Asked today he or anyone else in Government would apologise today to the pair, Hipkins said. 

"I have not been given any information to suggest that any of the claims that I made at that time, or information that I shared at that time, was wrong." 

- by Anna Leask, NZ Herald

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