Ardern urges Ihumātao protestors to remain peaceful after police ramped up frontline numbers overnight

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is urging protestors at the Ihumātao site to remain peaceful after issues overnight meant police had to ramp up numbers on the frontline.

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The Prime Minister talked to TVNZ1’s Breakfast about why police had to ramp up numbers on the frontline.

Members of the group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) group are continuing their occupation of the land at Māngere, trying to stop development company Fletcher Residential building several hundred houses on the site which is believed to be sacred land to Māori.

Nationwide rallies are planned today in support of Ihumātao protestors who've called on New Zealanders to hold a "national day of action".

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Save Our Unique Landscape leader Pania Newton spoke to TVNZ1’s Breakfast from the South Auckland site. Source: Breakfast

But this morning, Ms Ardern told TVNZ1’s Breakfast that overnight there was, or there were potentially attempts by protestors to move into a part of the site that the police have been ordered by a court to keep people off.

"That is what I believe is what led to the additional police numbers and the escalation," Ms Ardern said, adding that while she wasn't there, she had received reports about police decision making.

"It is important that we of course maintain the principle that the police make their own decisions based on operational need. We do not interfere and that's really important."

However, Ms Ardern said there had been different perspectives on why there were issues last night.

"My plea would simply be again the same as I made a week ago - there are talks underway, what we're very keen to see is that while people are having their voices heard that we just try and make sure that of course everything is as peaceful as possible, that we do have a deescalation."

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It’s been labelled the biggest Māori land protest in decades. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern said, while she has been both criticised for intervening too much and not enough, her focus remains on facilitating talks with parties involved, and she stands by her decision to halt activity at the site until then.

"This is a really complex, complex issue," Ms Ardern said. "So the job that I see we have is to try and help find a solution and that solution needs to obviously involve manu whenua and that's the conversation that's being had now, and that's where I want to put all of our energy.

"Ultimately I think we do need a for Māori, by Māori solution. We need resolution and in the meantime people will want their voices heard - I acknowledge that, I hear there's a day of action - we just ask that they continue to be peaceful."