Some iwi-led checkpoints causing tension as they continue through Alert Level 3

The iwi-led checkpoints that are supported by Northland police are causing resentment in some communities as they continue through Alert Level 3. 

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Kerikeri resident Ben Howell says iwi shouldn't be allowed to turn people away. Source: 1 NEWS

Set up by the Te Tai Tokerau Border Control, the checkpoints were imposed by iwi to stop people from breaking lockdown rules by travelling outside their local area. 

Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha has previously said police have a close working relationship with a number of communities operating the community checkpoints.

Mr Haumaha also said Northland police have been regularly checking in on the checkpoints and have been working closely with those running them. 

Police have said checkpoints are illegal, unless they have police support.

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A Te Whānau-ā-Apanui leader says they’re likely to continue protecting the community until the end of Alert Level 3. Source: 1 NEWS

One Kerikeri resident, Ben Howell, recently filmed a heated exchange with a police officer after he was pulled over at a checkpoint. 

Mr Howell, who asked the officer to keep his two metre distance, questions why he was pulled over.  

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To which the police officer tells him, “to have to talk to those people”, referring to the iwi group on the side of the road. 

Mr Howell responds: “What you’ve got here, mate, is you’re supporting people disputing wrong information and operating illegally. They don’t have the right, telling people they’re gonna turn them around and what not.”

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Seven Sharp look into what is and isn’t legal as people take the law into their own hands Source: Seven Sharp

He’s then asked for his driver's licence by the police officer, who begins writing down his registration. 

“Are you seriously going to pull over every person and ask them if they are going for a swim or surfcasting out at the beach? What’s the point of this?”

Ben Howell argues the iwi checkpoints are making people “feel intimidated” and that they aren’t helpful, instead are working to spread misinformation. 

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After telling the officer he intends to travel north of Kerikeri for work, he’s eventually allowed through.  

Mr Howell told 1 NEWS he has tried on more than one occasion to contact Kerikeri Police Station with his concerns but has had to give up due to long wait times

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Tourists travelling north will be halted on State Highway One north of Whangarei. Source: 1 NEWS

"I sought contact details for the area commander so that I can take my concerns to a management level at New Zealand police," he said. 

Mr Howell said he thinks some of the checkpoints have "intimidated and discouraged" people from what they are legally allowed to do.

"We should all abide by the rules, but the rules are the rules and all rules should apply to everyone.

"When you’ve got the Minister of Health flouting the rules he has helped set, while people with no commission are setting up roadblocks and harassing other citizens, then something is starting to go very wrong and it’s time to be asking questions," said Mr Howell. 

Northland-based National MP Matt King says his office has been inundated with residents angry about the checkpoints.

He says the complaints include people who claim to have been abused at the checkpoints, including being sworn and coughed at.

“These checkpoints are illegal, people have told me they feel bullied and intimidated.”

Mr King says he’d like to see them shut down but says if not at least they have to be overseen by police.