Good questions were raised by “a Far North man”, who did not want to be named because of his fear of retribution.
Talking to the Northland Age late last month, the man said he was
” … scared. Really scared. Not because of some virus. We have ways to deal with this. I am scared because our authorities allow people to take the law into their own hands.
“People with no authority, people with no mandate, who are not elected to represent the people by democratic rules.
“They are allowed to form a private militia, select their own people and block public roads. They are allowed to take away one of the basic human rights from us, the freedom to move.”
Yep. And so far as Point of Order can see, this is being done with the Prime Minister’s tacit approval.
The resident said he accepted the constraints on people’s movements in difficult times…
“But that had to be done in an organised way, following the law.”
“On what grounds will they [self-appointed Maori police and health officials] make decisions?
“If I will not follow their instructions, what then? Do they have the right to forcefully stop me from driving down a public road? I have totally lost confidence in my elected government that they will protect me.
“What will come next? We allow members of the public to close public roads, to restrict people’s movement with no legal authority. Will they next be allowed entry to my house? Will they next be allowed to search my car or my premises?”
But the upholding of our democratic system of law and order has been undermined by a Prime Minister who won’t admonish those who fix and police their own boundaries.
This undermining is exacerbated when the Police help the vigilantes.
Stuff” reports on the consequences of the government’s reluctance to discourage these checkpoints.
At least five more iwi have enforced border controls in the last week in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus by rule-breaking locals, hunters, and tourists.”
The report notes that at Ihumātao in south Auckland, a “rāhui” has been placed on the land.
A rāhui is described as an act of prohibiting access to land and waterways, as a conservation measure, usually put in place with a “karakia”.
The report does not explore the legal obligation on the public to comply with rahui.
An East Coast tribe, Te Whānau-ā-Āpanui, has imposed a 24-hours-a-day manned closure of its borders to all outsiders and has introduced curfews and a permit system.
The Stuff report flirts with the legality of tribal checkpoints that interfere with the rights of others.
And while most have respected the checkpoints, some members of the public have questioned whether the checkpoints are legal.
Police say they have been working closely with communities who wish to set up controls at their borders, with some officers attending the checkpoints to help.
“Where police are aware of these concerns we have been speaking to those involved to provide education and advice to ensure the safety of all members of our communities. Police’s focus remains on maintaining public safety, security and public order.
“Our officers have discretion in how they deal with matters and how they are enforced and all situations will be assessed on a case by case basis.”
This reference to Police working closely with communities who wish to set up controls at their borders and the acknowledgement that some officers are “attending the checkpoints to help” implies they are legal.
But when Point of Order recently asked the PM and the Police to tell us what statutory authority underpinned Maori “border” checks, neither answered the question.
Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha did say
We are working with Iwi who are taking the lead to ensure rural communities that don’t have immediate access to support services are well protected.
We are all coming to this kaupapa from the same place – out of a need to protect the most vulnerable in the community. Iwi are taking a strong leadership role and we want to model what it looks like when iwi, police, councils and other agencies work in partnership.
Point of Order – ominously – was not disabused when we emailed the Prime Minister’s Office and sent a copy to the Police press staff to observe that:
- Our question about the statutory powers being applied had not been addressed, reinforcing our understanding there are none and that the check points are illegal, (a matter with profound implications for notions of law and order).
- Most significantly, the Police say they “want to model what it looks like when iwi, police, councils and other agencies work in partnership”. We infer this means they are paving the way for a future in which Hone Harawira and other iwi leaders do their own policing – a matter with profou
As a consequence of official indifference to tribal members doing their own policing, motorists are being warned by a Newsroom writer:
If you’re out on the road this weekend, be prepared to be stopped – and not just by the police. Kayne Peters reports on the official and unofficial roadblocks springing up all over the motu.
Iwi across the country have stepped up efforts to secure their borders ahead of Easter Weekend. And police have joined forces with them to help protect their communities from possible Covid-19 transmission.
Although police could not give full details of when and where they’ll be setting up checkpoints, iwi are making their own known in the hope travellers will stay away and stay home.
The report lists a plethora of these checkpoints and/or road blocks around the country.
Police are warning of an increase in patrol presence over the Easter weekend, and that non-essential travellers will be fined.
But what will they be doing about tribal vigilantes who illegally stop and challenge people?
And why is the government not cracking down to halt the insidious and politically dangerous spread of tribal borders policed by self-appointed enforcers who are accountable to nobody?