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Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Police ‘frustrated’ and ‘disappointed’ with Hīkoi protesters

Police say they are “frustrated” with the amount of time and resources being used to resolve the hīkoi camped at Auckland’s southern border.

A strong police contingent continues to monitor members of the Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth (Shot) movement at the Mercer checkpoint after a police line had to move protesters off the highway early this morning.

“The protesters’ actions today have caused disruption and delays for those travelling through the checkpoint for legitimate reasons,” a police spokesperson said.

“We are frustrated that significant time and resources are being committed to resolve this situation and we are very disappointed by the actions of this group of protesters who continue to put the wider community and our staff at risk.”

It is now understood that protesters are hunkering down at Mercer and food is being distributed to them.

Posts to social media claim the protesters can no longer access internet because of “cell jammers”.

Just after midday, a vehicle at the northern checkpoint at Te Hana blocked SH1 northbound.

A woman was arrested and warned for obstruction. The vehicle was removed from the road.

No protesters are at the northern checkpoint.

The group stuck at the southern border claim to be heading to Waitangi, but local Māori leaders have told them they are not welcome there.

Police at the southern checkpoint have been engaging with protesters, including the occupants of two vehicles who deliberately parked to obstruct traffic on SH1.

The occupants refused to move the vehicles, claiming to have an exemption to travel through the checkpoint. Two occupants in one vehicle had been granted an exemption for permitted travel.

The bus moved off the highway late this afternoon.

Police are still considering possible enforcement action.

The convoy of around 50 vehicles carrying about 100 people arrived at the southern checkpoint late last night.

This evening, Te Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira slammed the hīkoi, calling it the “white man’s march to nowhere”.

He told Newstalk ZB the protesters were taking He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni celebrations and turning it into an “anti-government march”.

“They wanted to use our independence celebrations as a way of being able to just bust through the borders and say ‘we are free, we are free’.”

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) was signed in Waitangi on October 28, 1835, by 34 northern chiefs. Commemorations in normal years draw large numbers of people to the campground next to Te Tii Marae.

Harawira described the group as ”Pākehā anti-vaxxers” trying to take over He Whakaputanga commemorations.

Ngāpuhi chairman Wane Wharerau said the rūnanga also opposed the hīkoi because a group opposing vaccinations was “dangerous” for whānau in Te Tai Tokerau.

Wharerau said the hīkoi diverted attention from a genuine commemoration of a covenant in the history of Ngāpuhi. More than 100 years ago Te Tai Tokerau lost thousands of whānau to the Spanish flu and now it was facing a similar pandemic, but this time a vaccine was available to help fight it, he said.

He said people would be welcome when it was safe.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair said as the tangata whenua of central Auckland it would not support such a protest at any time because such actions put at risk what the people of Auckland had endured and worked so hard for over successive lockdowns.

Waitangi

Meanwhile, around 500 people gathered for a pōwhiri at Te Tii o Waitangi Marae in the name of “freedom”.

More than 250 vehicles set off from Whangārei’s Kensington Park at 9.30am today to throw their weight behind the hīkoi’s stand against Government mandates.

Around 12 people were prevented from crossing into Tai Tokerau at the Te Hana checkpoint on State Highway 1 this morning.

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