from page 1 by Avneesh Vincent
Published January 11, 2022 1:42PM
Summer campers are enjoying their holidays and abiding by rules requiring them to have their vaccines passports ready for inspection at all times.
Campers aged 12 and over must have a vaccination pass to stay at the region’s freedom and summer camping sites.
The protocol remained in place as Tairāwhiti moved to the orange level of the Covid-19 Protection Framework on December 30.
Pouawa camper and Gisborne local Nicola Heuser said her family had been camping on and off for around 10 years.
“If this protocol keeps people safe then it has to be done,” she said.
Nicola said she had seen Gisborne District Council-appointed inspectors visit the site and ask campers for their vaccine passports. She did not recall seeing or hearing of any incidents where people had refused to show a vax pass.
“Everyone is playing by the rules, keeping it safer and hygienic. It just makes things easier and the kids can come, have fun and live their life here,” she said.
The family usually camped with close friends as a way to catch up over a chat as their kids went body boarding, snorkelling and surfcasting.
Nicola said it was “great” to have different families camping alongside them and it was “cool” to see the children growing to become the next generation of campers.
Mum of three Rebecca Carmichael said they had been camping with the Walker family every year since their parents started off the camping practice.
It was good to see that all those camping were fully vaccinated.
“If it’s the only thing the Government requires then that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Ms Carmichael said she had seen the inspectors visit twice.
“But it could have been more when we were not around.”
The families enjoyed doing things together such as shared meals and swimming, she said. The husbands were keen divers.
“We also had Christmas and we brought our Christmas tree and put lights on it . . . so it has been pretty relaxed here,” she said.
Tracey Walker said they were grateful to have the opportunity to freedom camp, especially with the ongoing situation around Covid-19 restrictions.
Council environmental Services and protection director Helen Montgomery said the council’s policy to restrict camping to those who were double-vaccinated was due to community concerns around vulnerable communities on the East Coast.
When people applied for a permit through the council website, it explained the requirement to have a valid vaccine passport.
“Our website also explains that council staff may ask to view their vaccine passports. If campers are unable to provide a valid vaccine passport they are asked to leave,” she said.
The council put up signs at the campgrounds to further highlight the need for a valid vaccine passport.
TIME TO GO: Freedom campers at Pouawa pack up at the end of another memorable summer holiday at the beach. All of this group are locals except Zaqueo Tijerina (far right), who is from Wellington. ‘I have been coming to Gisborne every year but it’s my first time camping here with my friends doing body boarding, swimming, surfing, little walks, snorkelling and simply just chilling,’ he said. With Zaqueo are (from left) locals Pippa Rhodes, Lily Heuser, Nicola Heuser and Fergus Heuser. Picture by Liam Clayton
FAMILY TRADITION: Summer holiday camping at Pouawa is a generational event for the Walker and Carmichael families. ‘We are the third generation now here,’ Tracey Walker says. ‘I remember both our families used to camp down here and we were kids back then . . . now we are doing it with our children.’ This year has been slightly different with vaccine passports required by all campers aged 12 years and over at freedom camping sites. Inspectors have visited sites but there have been no issues. Back row (from left) are Xavier Carmichael, Rebecca Carmichael, Ariella Carmichael, Tracy Walker, Sadie Walker and Henare Walker. Front: William Walker Rees Carmichael and Hezekiah Walker. Picture by Liam Clayton