< May 2020 newsletter


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. 

The continued Government, Police and Council support of these roadblocks has become untenable, especially so when Police leadership in Northland issued a directive that they are to be present at all community checkpoints, and they are not to leave even if an emergency occurs nearby.

This development is further endangering the health and safety of the public.

The roadblocks are more than “probably illegal” as the Police Commissioner has admitted – they are illegal and tolerating them threatens the fundamentals underpinning the rule of law

Strangers stopping your car and demanding personal details is intimidating, particularly with patched and unpatched gang members present - they are not there to deliver scones to volunteers! It is incredible that even a couple of days ago Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha said “of course, you've heard that there are gang members on these checkpoints but that just hasn't been the case." A simple internet search throws up dozens of images and videos which prove this assertion wrong.

Police are also touting the reduction in the number of checkpoints which are reportedly fewer than 10 during level 3. But here is a simple solution - if these roadblocks really are helping control COVID-19, and if every roadblock theoretically has a Police officer present, why not just have Police or Health Officers man the checkpoints lawfully? The answer is that roadblocks are not just about health, they are about exerting power over other New Zealanders. Wally Haumaha has been reported as saying the roadblocks “could be seen as an expression of Treaty rights”.

We at Democracy Action welcome the impending demise of the illegal COVID-19 roadblocks, as indicated by the Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, but warn that it is highly likely they will be back again under another pretext. A dangerous precedent which challenges the concept of equality before the law has now been set. The constitutional implications of this campaign of defiance and the official acceptance of it needs to be challenged.

Please add to the backlash against these roadblocks by demanding they be shut down. Send your messages to the following:

Commissioner of Police, Andrew Coster: [email protected]

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

 The Minister of Police, Hon Stuart Nash: [email protected]

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon Simon Bridges: [email protected]

Additionally, you can make a complaint directly to the Police using the online form. It is available here:  https://forms.police.govt.nz/forms/complaint/52

Media coverage

One News: Calls for police to shut down Māori-led roadblocks as public report they feel 'intimidated'

National Party Press Release: Police resources tied up in illegal community checkpoints

Kiwiblog: More criticism of illegal checkpoints

BFD blog: Ardern Saw “No Evidence” of Gangs Involved with Illegal Roadblocks


Go back to the May 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

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

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