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Thriving in a man’s world

16 January 2021


Letter: ‘All I want for Christmas’

Tuesday 10 November 2020 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


"My beef is that the Cook Islands are Covid free, no reported cases, ever, period, but New Zealand will not label us as a “low risk” country."

We are all trying to manage changes to our way of life during Covid and New Zealand has succeeded where most other countries have failed. Congratulations!

My beef is that the Cook Islands are Covid free, no reported cases, ever, period, but New Zealand will not label us as a “low risk” country.  This lack of designation even prevents Australia from acknowledging any incoming island passengers as coming from a “low risk” travel zone for any connecting flights. 

With the potential full-scale trans-Tasman travel bubble, New Zealand airports established “Green Zone” corridors for Covid free passenger, and “Red Zone” corridors for people arriving from countries with high infection rates, a working system of separating the different passengers being denied to the Cook Islands. 

Here is my point, the international flight to Rarotonga leaves Auckland International Airport from a Green Zone, presently there is no quarantine requirement for arriving passengers into the Cook Islands.  However, the return flight to Auckland is assigned to the Red Zone upon arrival at the international terminal, potentially subjecting passengers to the virus when they navigate immigration and customs, only then to be put into quarantine for two weeks. 

Recent island travellers were even put on a bus to Rotorua for their two-week quarantine period, they were not prepared for the colder climate. All this done when the plane was, in all practical terms, a Covid free plane, just like any other current domestic flight within New Zealand – nobody was infected. 

The chance of any infection, prior to docking in the international “Red Zone”, would have been extremely low to impossible, maybe from the assigned flight crew. Again, this is the exact system in operation for the New Zealand domestic flights operating today. 

Why take low (no) risk passengers and put them through your overburdened managed quarantine system? Now, because there is presently no space available in quarantine hotels leading up to and possibly through the holidays, several of us continue to be stuck in Rarotonga, all bookings cancelled until further notice. 

The simple fix would be to get an exemption from NZ Immigration, but that option was denied on several applications. The solution is to allow Cook Islands flights to dock at the international green zone so passengers could stay or transit onwards to other destinations, like a quarantine free flight to Australia (currently only available to people in New Zealand). 

This is our cry, a cry for some common sense. Prime Minister, are you listening?  Please, give us an early Christmas present and let us out.  Let the plane dock in the “green zone”.

Jon Beymer