Covid-19: Winston Peters claims woman who went to Northland 'connected to gang'

Author
Qiuyi Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Oct 2021, 10:36AM
Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. (Photo / File)
Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. (Photo / File)

Covid-19: Winston Peters claims woman who went to Northland 'connected to gang'

Author
Qiuyi Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Oct 2021, 10:36AM

Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has appeared on national television this morning to allege the woman at the centre of Northland's snap move to level 3 is connected to the Mongrel Mob.

The claims, along with other allegations about the woman, have been widely circulated on social media but have not been confirmed by officials or the Government. Peters told Newshub Nation he was absolutely certain of his sources.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a hastily arranged press conference last night that he had no information to confirm the woman was connected to a gang.

But Peters said this morning the woman was travelling with a Mongrel Mob member and that he brought her from the Bay of Plenty to Northland via Auckland.

Peters told Newshub Nation that health authorities and the PM knew who the person travelled with days ago.

She visited Whangārei and then fled to a marae further north, Peters said. When police went to arrest her at the marae, she had already left, he said.

Peters said he was absolutely certain of his sources.

He said health teams knew this days ago and he thought it shocking that they were not sharing the information with the public. People had a right to know, he said.

Peters said the situation in the north was predictable given the nature of essential travel exemptions given out.

Northland's level change overnight came after it was confirmed the woman used false information to obtain travel documents and spent several days in the region. She is now in MIQ in Auckland, but a female travelling companion has yet to be located.

The woman has not been cooperative and despite spending five days in the region - from last Saturday to Wednesday this week - only two locations of interest have so far been released. They are both petrol stations in Whāngārei - Z Kensington and BP Connect Wylies Woodhill.

The woman is believed to have travelled around the region, including Whangārei, Kamo, Paihia and Kawakawa, before returning to Auckland.

Hipkins revealed at 6.30pm yesterday that Northland would be moving into level 3 from 11.59pm.

He said the woman was using a document which might have been based on false information. She had travelled widely through Northland.

By the time the document was rescinded, the person had already crossed the Auckland/Northland region border.

Hipkins told the press conference there was no information at that stage to say whether the case was involved with a gang, or connected to a gang.

A reporter at the hastily arranged press conference said they had been told the woman is a sex worker but Hipkins said he could not confirm that - he had not been briefed that was the case.

Hipkins said the woman had not been cooperating with contact tracers.

He said it was "very disappointing".

Hipkins said it had been difficult to locate the woman following a first weak positive test result, and it took police involvement to find the person again.

The document had permitted the travel under the "social services category".

Hipkins said he did not know why the woman was being uncooperative or how many contacts might be connected to the case.

The second woman has now been identified but remains at large.