By David James
New Zealand has long boasted that its relationship with its indigenous population is one of the more enlightened. Not anymore. The brutal imposition of house arrest on residents of the Pacific island of Nukunonu because they have not agreed to be vaccinated has revealed that the New Zealand government is willing to ignore basic citizen rights.
A letter late last year from the Office of Council of Nukunonu to the unvaccinated family revealed that extreme pressure was put on them to comply. It set deadlines and saying they are “sad” the family has not complied. It said: “You will remain on house arrest with your wife … and your son … for a further six months until you reconsider your decision. Your daughter … will also be on house arrest starting tonight at 10 pm.”
The family has now been under house arrest for 11 months. Non-complying residents on another atoll, Atafu, were allowed out several weeks ago, but they are not permitted to attend gatherings or meetings. There are no instances of Covid-19 on either atoll.
Mahelino Patelesio, the father of the Nukunonu family under house arrest, describes the situation as “beyond ridiculous.” “Obviously I’m very concerned about my family’s well-being which is why we’re making this determined stand,” he said. He says some locals felt they could not refuse to get inoculated because of community pressure to co-operate.
Patelasio believes the government’s aggression “echoes deeply into NZ government’s attitude to Tokelau people in Tokelau.” To him it reveals contempt by the New Zealand government towards the indigenous population. The government is also cynically putting itself at arm’s length of the issue by using proxies on the island. Ross Ardern, father of the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Adern, is the Administrator of the area. He has not interfered.
“We are easier to control through a puppet local ‘government’ and installed proxies in leadership, because now you have unquestioning sheep leading a community of fearful sheep into oblivion,” says Patelesio.
Imprisoning Tokelau people who do not comply with the vaccine edicts, which is effectively treating them as criminals, is exactly what New Zealand’s 1990 Bill of Rights, part of New Zealand’s uncodified constitution, was designed to prevent. The inescapable conclusion is that the New Zealand government is breaking its own laws.
Part II of the Act, which covers civil and political rights, says that New Zealand citizens have the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without consent (Section 10). The Covid-19 vaccines are experimental. They have only received provisional approval around the world,because it takes at least eight to 10 years to get full approval. In order to know what the medium or long term effects are, you have to wait for the medium or long term.
This means that anyone who receives these inoculations is, usually without knowing, participating in a drug trial. To pressure the Nukunonu family by imprisoning them is to rob them of the right to informed consent over a drug whose medium term effects cannot yet be known.
Section 11 of the Bill is even more explicit. It says that citizens have the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment except in the case of involuntary commitment. Again, the implication is clear. By imprisoning the Nukunonu family for exercising their right to refuse, the New Zealand government and its proxies are committing a crime under the country’s own statutes.
Patelesio says the long-term detention is taking a toll on the family. “I don’t need to be a psychologist to sense a detrimental effect. Our son and daughter cannot socialize. They obviously don’t feel attached to this community now.”
He adds that his wife Ana, who used to socialize actively, has also been adversely affected. “Fortunately, this situation has brought us closer together more than ever, spiritually.”
Patelasio believes it is self-evident that imprisoning them for not complying with the edict to take an experimental drug is a violation of the family’s basic freedom of choice. “To bring freedom of movement into focus, I try to console my family here in the fact that we’re relatively better off in Nukunonu even in these restricted circumstances because many families overseas – that includes our three eldest and their families – struggle daily to have the basics,” he said.
“Ironically, they have greater freedom of movement. It’s a less than satisfying thought. I think they know that if push comes to shove, I will not sit by.”
The Office of the Council of Nukunonu was contacted for comment but did not respond.