< June 2020 newsletter

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.

In a recent media release Democracy Action spokesperson, Lee Short, said:

“Recently both Act Leader David Seymour and former Labour Party candidate, now communications advisor Josie Pagani, have called for a Royal Commission into the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Government winding up Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee, a Royal Commission is needed to provide a thorough independent assessment of how the crisis was managed.”

“The Royal Commission, which we believe should start before the election, needs to look at the roadblocks closely. Were they legal? What support did the Government and Police give to them? How many motorists were intimidated by iwi or gang members at those roadblocks? What precedent has been set by official tolerance of these self-appointed ‘checkpoints’?”

“These are serious questions which the Government has not answered. A Royal Commission will,” Mr Short said.

The New Zealand public has a right to answers and accountability, writes journalist Michael Coote in his opinion piece published by NZCPR: Inquiries now imperative into Maori COVID-19 roadblocks and state complicity

Point of Order has asked pertinent questions of the Police and press officers working for the Prime Minister which have not been addressed. See: Cops help iwi with roadblocks as a cultural response to Covid-19 – and perhaps to portend a policing “partnership”

Recommended reading: 'Hone commands - Police blink', an opinion piece by a member of the Democracy Action Working Group.

Let's add to the call for a judicial inquiry.

Here is a list of some of the MPs you could contact:

 The Attorney-General Hon David Parker: [email protected]

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: [email protected]

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon Todd Muller: [email protected]

Rt Hon Winston Peters: [email protected]

ACT Party leader, David Seymour: [email protected]

Other media coverage

BreakingViews: Bob Edlin: You will know the border has been reached when virus vigilantes stop you in the name of health and safety

RNZ: Looking back at the Epidemic Response Committee

Stuff: Coronavirus: ACT calls for Royal Commission to investigate Government response to Covid-19

Go back to the June 2020 newsletter


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

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

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. 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