'Stay away': Mayor Jim Boult's advice to Auckland couple who escaped to Wānaka

The AM Show 15/09/2021

WATCH: Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult accepts the apology of an Auckland couple who allegedly breached lockdown to travel to their family's holiday home in Wānaka - but also warns couple not to return for a while.

William Willis, 35, and Hannah Rawnsley, 26, have not yet been charged by police, but face up to six months in prison or a $4000 fine if found guilty of breaching lockdown restrictions.

"We are deeply sorry for our actions and would like to unreservedly apologise to the Wānaka community, and to all the people of Aotearoa New Zealand, for what we did", Willis & Rawnsley said in a public apology.

"We initially sought name suppression after receiving death threats and we had genuine fear for our safety. However, we remain committed to taking responsibility for our actions and will not be seeking further name suppression.

"We understand that strict compliance is required to stamp out COVID-19 from our country. We have let everyone down with our actions, and we wholeheartedly apologise."

Boult appeared on The AM Show this morning to share his views on the apology.

"Look, I hear their apology, I guess we accept it," he said. "There's a lot of anger and a lot of hurt down here though around their actions. A lot of people are calling for all sorts of punishments, which are probably a little over the top… we now leave it to the police to take the matter further."

"These people have said they did a stupid thing, they acknowledge that, they put a community in danger - thank goodness we're now assured that there is no ongoing danger. I think we should now leave it to the police to take it forward," he said.

"If I was them I probably wouldn't come back to the community for a fair old while. I think I'd put some distance between now and their next visit, that would be my best advice to them.

"It is a tight community and quite understandably people were really, really unhappy about this, right across the district… it'll take a while to get over this."

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