Source: Auckland Council
Pasifika Festival has been cancelled as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
The decision was made after discussions between Mayor Phil Goff and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday and again this morning.
Overnight, the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee met and considered the issue, and its advice, based on concerns from MFAT and MBIE, was to cancel.
“While the latest Ministry of Health advice is that New Zealand does not have a community outbreak of COVID-19 and the risk of a community outbreak remains low, Auckland Council and the Cabinet Committee’s specific concerns are about the risk of the virus being transmitted to the Pacific Islands by attendees of the Festival,” Mayor Goff said.
“The history of the spread of contagious infections from New Zealand to Samoa, with last year’s measles epidemic which took 82 lives, weighed heavily on our decision.
“It is disappointing for all of us as Aucklanders, and particularly for our Pacific communities, that the festival will not be going ahead this weekend,” said Phil Goff.
“It’s unfortunate to have to cancel an event enjoyed by tens of thousands which celebrates our vibrant Pacific community in Auckland and our multiculturalism.
“However, Aucklanders will understand the council taking commonsense steps to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
“It’s particularly disappointing to have to cancel the event for the second year in a row, but in both instances, it is for reasons beyond our control.
“Auckland Council is continuing to monitor the response to coronavirus and is ready to respond to any advice from health authorities to help them share their information and manage any health needs in the Auckland region.
“The future of other public events will be determined on a case-by-case basis, following advice from health authorities and the situation with COVID-19 at the time.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “We’re disappointed, but at the end of the day the health of New Zealanders and the Pacific community is our number one priority.
“We still have no community transmission, but because of new specific advice about the number of people coming into New Zealand for Pacifika who will then return to the Pacific after the event we have decided we need to be extra precautious.
“We have a duty to protect the Pacific from COVID-19, and this decision is all about that.
“We are constantly evaluating the risk situation with COVID-19. In the last 48 hours we have had the first identified case in the Pacific and the global outlook is constantly evolving, so we need to make these decisions based on the most up to date information.
“This is a case of better safe than sorry. I know many in the Pacific community will be disappointed, and I am too. I always look forward to this event. But we have to make sure our communities health and the health of the Pacific is at the forefront of our minds and decisions,” Jacinda Ardern said.