Response to illegal roadblocks is "inadequate and unacceptable"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been called on to step in and provide strong and unequivocal leadership on the continuing and growing proliferation of illegal roadblocks. Democracy Action says that the self-appointed community activists and patched gang members manning the roadblocks have been emboldened by Police inaction on the clear offences. The Police seem to have taken their lead from Minister of Police Stuart Nash’s soft stance.

Democracy Action spokesperson, Lee Short, said: 

“It is unacceptable that one group appears to be above the law. These roadblocks are stopping and intimidating ordinary New Zealanders travelling lawfully on public roads. The only groups authorised to stop them and check on their travel plans are the Police or other officers designated by the Director-General of Health. Frankly, the ‘Tai Tokerau Border Control’ has as much legal power to stop traffic as the ‘Tai Tokerau Bridge Club’.”

“Democracy Action does not accept these roadblocks are only about combating the spread of COVID-19 or protecting the health of local communities. They are about usurping powers that rightfully belong to the Government and entrenching special treatment for certain groups. It is a direct challenge to the principle that all New Zealanders are equal before the law. You can be sure that if university students in Dunedin blocked off Hyde Street and stopped anyone they felt ‘looked like they did not belong’, the Police would quickly and correctly act immediately.”

“Instead, we get the Minister of Police speculating that roadblocks might be justified if they had ill-defined ‘community support’, a concept not included in the law. Police who have been firm with Kiwis breaking COVID-19 travel restrictions, even arresting the worst offenders, suddenly become by-standers when the law is being flouted by roadblocks. Rather than being moved on or arrested, Police have supported these illegal actions.”

“This is not the decisive action the country needs to restore faith in the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. The Police Commissioner has failed, the Police Minister has failed. It is time for the Prime Minister for take the lead and uphold the rule of law,” Mr Short said.


Labour boasts of roadblock partnership

Two Labour Members of Parliament have confirmed the claim by Democracy Action that the Government and Police condoned the illegal iwi roadblocks on public roads. Tamati Coffey (Labour - Waiariki) and Kiri Allan (Labour – List MP living in the East Coast) have stated that these roadblocks were “well supported” by the Government and that police “helped with the checkpoints”. Continue reading

Iwi checkpoints “show the way” for Treaty partnership

Meng Foon and Paul Hunt of the Human Rights Commission use the illegal roadblocks as an admirable illustration of the Treaty of Waitangi 'partnership' principle. It is a model they would like to see replicated. “The two treaty partners collaborated – with kāwanatanga, or governorship, represented through local councils, Civil Defence and the Police, and rangatiratanga, the authority of chiefs, upheld by hapū and iwi”.  “This relationship between rangatiratanga and kāwanatanga is ready to be used across all aspects of government during the recovery programme. The time has come,” they write. Continue reading

Royal Commission needs to investigate illegal roadblocks

Democracy Action fully supports recent calls for a Royal Commission into the COVID-19 response, and strongly suggests its remit includes an expert examination of the legality, or more likely illegality, of iwi roadblocks. Euphemistically called ‘community checkpoints’, these roadblocks purported to protect isolated communities from the pandemic but were inconsistent with legal instructions to the general public. Continue reading

This is how the Treaty partnership works in practise, folks

The partnership interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi is manifesting in a myriad of ways. The recent unlawful closure of the road to the North Cape by Ngati Kuri, with the collaboration of government agencies including the Department of Conservation, the NZ Police and the NZ Transport Agency, is but another example. Continue reading

The road to Cape Reinga still illegally blocked by Ngāti Kuri

“It's my customary rights and I’m prepared to knock you out if you pass that gate,” a person blocking access says in a video filmed by Northland MP Matt King. Continue reading

"It is disgraceful" - Gang members participating in illegal roadblocks

During the COVID-19 epidemic, all New Zealanders are subject to lawful travel restrictions designed to protect public health, and which are enforceable by the police. Those who blatantly flout the restrictions can be arrested. There is however one group which appears to be above the law, and community group Democracy Action is calling on the government to take immediate action against the illegal blockades on public roads. Continue reading


The vigilantes manning the unauthorised roadblocks on public roads have no more legal authority to do so than your neighbour. Despite this, the highest authorities in Government and Police are encouraging these self-appointed groups to stop New Zealanders travelling and to turn them back if, in their inexpert opinion, motorists are breaking travel restrictions.  Continue reading