24 March 2020

A forgotten air service...

Covid-19 and Motiti Island...

Motiti Island used to be a thriving community, trading seafood, maize and kumara with the mainland. A remote island might sound like the ideal spot to ride out the Covid-19 crisis, but the residents of isolated Motiti island say they have been forgotten. Twelve over-70s are in lockdown on Motiti, some 10km off the Bay of Plenty coast. Another three over-60s are also hunkering down there, but they have no way to get grocery supplies or fuel for their generators from the mainland. And as the country counts down to tomorrow's shutdown, they are beginning to panic. Kaumatua Nepia Ranapia, 71, lives on the island, with his son Daniel, 35. "I am thinking the worst. If anything happens here with our old people. How are we going to address that?" There are no shops on Motiti. Food is either grown on the island, or sent over on the 10-minute flight from Tauranga. It goes as often as residents need, but costs around $150 for each trip. The flights will stop on Wednesday. Ranapia says the islanders have been desperately trying to find supermarkets in the Bay of Plenty that will deliver to Tauranga Airport. And Government officials aren't picking up the phone to help. "There are more old people than young people here. The majority of them are women and a lot are widows. "We need food supplies before everything shuts down on Wednesday. The supermarkets won't deliver anymore, they are too busy. "We've got to get the food through and we've got to get the gas bottles and generators. Some are on generators for their power. They rely on gas for cooking food. "We always bulk buy on Motiti, but we can't do that no more. We split fares between two so we can bring out the food together, but we can't do that either. We need someone to co-ordinate with the delivery men from the supermarkets. "I've been trying to get hold of the DIA [Department of Internal Affairs]." Motiti Island, just off the coast of Tauranga, is home to just 30 people and free of large scale development. There is no basic infrastructure on Motiti. Residents rely on generators or solar panels and draw water from freshwater springs. It is wholly privately owned. It does not fall under any local authority council and so islanders do not pay rates. But they also receive no services: no streetlights, no roads, no sewerage. The school closed half a century ago. The Minister of Local Government (currently Nanaia Mahuta) is a kind of nominal mayor, with day-to-day administration handled by DIA. Doctors must be flown over. And residents are worried none of them will able to get a flu shot. "Everyone is locked down in their homes. They stopped the doctor service. Helicopters are only for emergencies, generally if you are ill you go by plane." Nepia said residents also won't be able to monitor people arriving on the island by boat. "We have got no control and there is no plan for Motiti. We are very vulnerable here." The island has around 30 permanent residents, most still living close to the settlement of Karioi. Many of the properties are holiday homes, with owners visiting their ancestral land a couple of times a year. Mahuta is in isolation following a visit to Australia but a spokesman said she would respond to questions later on Tuesday.

Source : 

Island Air connect Motiti Island... for my profile of Island Air see : 

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