Deputy Police Commissioner supports intention behind iwi-led checkpoints

By Jessica Tyson

Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha says the iwi led checkpoints set up in rural areas of Aotearoa during the COVID-19 lockdown has been of "the right intent".

“The motivation and the principles that have been put in front of me have been ones that haven’t been self-serving they haven’t been obstructive,” says Haumaha.

He says the checkpoints have been set up by iwi to protect their small communities, especially kaumātua which is fair considering the historyMāori have had when it comes to pandemics and low immunity that Māori experience.

“There have been some [drivers] who have breached the rules and have been turned around but overall the feedback that we’ve had, and it depends on what sector of society you talk to, overall the general feeling at these checkpoints have supported the people.”

Haumaha has also praised iwi around the country in how they have supported their people throughout the lockdown.

“Their iwi leadership has been nothing short of inspirational. The way that they’ve stepped out, the way that they’ve looked after their communities, the way that they’ve protected the safety of kaumātua and their pakeke inside of small communities, he says.

“I’m just absolutely encouraged by what I’ve seen and the aroha that’s been shown right across the board has been absolutely excellent to watch.”

In the first 18 hours of Alert Level 3, 104 people were warned or prosecuted for breaches of the restrictions. But overall Haumaha says Police are really happy about how New Zealanders have transited out of Alert Level 4 into Level 3.

“Police have warned a lot of people about physical distancing, unnecessary travel but overall we are pleased with the way people are still following the rules.”

He says their last resort is to look at an enforcement options for people.

“Our message to our staff out there has been quite calm in our response, being confident in the way we work with our people being compassionate, understanding that these are extraordinary times, he says.

“So our primary message is to engage with our people to understand what sort of issues they’re feeling under these constraints. It’s about educating each other around what the rules are and what those rules mean for everybody encouraging everybody to stay home, stay safe stay within your bubbles stay local.”