More than 22,000 Pacific people have tested for Covid-19 in recent weeks, as the community has rallied in the face of the latest surge of the coronavirus.

At a news conference for Pacific media on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, paid tribute to the community for the way it had responded to the call to get tested.

“That’s a 23.2 percentage of testing for Pacific people and of course New Zealand’s Pacific population is less than half that,” Ardern said.

That could be seen in the long queues that had formed at testing centres right across Auckland’s south in the past week, with queues that had stretched for kilometres down roads.

Ms Ardern and Dr Bloomfield also paid tribute to the family at the centre of the latest cluster, who had been subjected to some of the internet’s worst vitriol since coming forward.

“Where would we be right now if that family hadn’t done exactly the right thing and been tested,” the prime minister said. “Had they not been tested in the way that they were, we would be dealing with a much larger outbreak than we have.”

“They have potentially saved lives,” she said.

While most of the cases in Auckland’s latest outbreak are from the Pacific community, both Ms Ardern and Dr Bloomfield stressed the response from the Pacific community had been unlike any other.

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