Saturday, November 27

Covid-19: Illegal Hapū-Led Checkpoint Closed, Police Establish Static Checkpoints


Police closed yesterday an illegal checkpoint run by hapū in Te Araroa, but agreed to establish two static checkpoints that track vehicle movements through Ngāti Porou rohe.

Police question drivers at a static checkpoint in Okitu, Wainui, on Tuesday morning.

Photo: Gray Clapham / Gisborne Herald / LDR

The Matakaoa Covid-19 response group opened a community checkpoint at the intersection of State Highway 35 and Pohutu Highway at 8 a.m. yesterday.

Police attended, spoke to those involved, and closed it at 3 p.m.

A “compromise” was reached, and the police agreed to establish two operational static checkpoints as of today: one in Okitu, Wainui and the other in Wharekahika / Hicks Bay.

The Matakaoa Covid-19 response group is pleased that the checkpoints are finally in place and want them to remain at alert levels 3 and 4.

Police say the checkpoints will be used to analyze vehicle movements, but cannot indicate how long they will be in place.

The Matakaoa Covid-19 response group opened a community checkpoint at the intersection of State Highway 35 and Pohutu Highway, near Te Araroa, yesterday morning.

The Matakaoa Covid-19 response group opened a community checkpoint at the intersection of State Highway 35 and Pohutu Highway, near Te Araroa, yesterday morning.
Photo: Supplied / LDR

The area’s police commander, Inspector Sam Aberahama, yesterday visited the community checkpoint, which he said was illegal under the Covid-19 alert level restrictions.

“There were no problems with the closure. They accepted and understood the reasons,” he said.

During those discussions, the police agreed to establish two static checkpoints.

“They’ve wanted static checkpoints since the day. We’re going to put them in to see what the movement looks like and who is moving.

“Yesterday we got engaged to be able to have a better image.”

Police would analyze the data to understand whether the people they encountered were moving through the area or whether people entering the area from outside, he said.

“At this stage, however, there has been no evidence to suggest that many people are entering this region for the wrong reasons. We had a case in Waikato recently, but those people were escorted to where they came.”

Matakaoa Covid-19 response spokesperson Ani Pahuru-Huriwai said the community was “ecstatic” by the static controls.

“We did not want to have a community checkpoint so that they would listen to us.

“We want to have a working, functional and respectful relationship with the police.

“At the end of the day, for us, it’s about keeping our whānau safe and keeping the virus out of here.”

The Matakaoa Covid-19 response group claimed yesterday that roaming police checkpoints had not reduced traffic and that their communities had been offered “less protection” during the outbreak of the more infectious Delta variant than during the 2020 shutdown. .

Matakaoa Covid-19 response spokesperson Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says they did not want to have to set up a community checkpoint to be heard, but are satisfied with the resulting static checkpoints.

Matakaoa Covid-19 response spokesperson Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says they did not want to have to put a community checkpoint in place to be heard, but are satisfied with the resulting static.
Photo: LDR

Community kaitiaki (guardians) would not be involved in police-run checkpoints, but Pahuru-Huriwai said they hoped to continue discussions with the police on this.

“We want to congratulate the cops who have been here from Hawke’s Bay, they have been incredible.

“We are very grateful for the support we have had.”

The group encouraged all the whānau living far away to stay away at this time.

Acting Minister of Emergency Management Kris Faafoi last week rejected a written request from 32 Ngāti Porou marae to declare a regional state of emergency and implement static checkpoints for the coast.

The minister agreed with Tairāwhiti’s emergency management controller David Wilson, who believed that the state of emergency was not necessary.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Publishers, and NZ On Air.


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