Murupara Mongrel Mob member responds to Hobsons Pledge petition

By Kereama Wright

A mongrel mob member at the centre of a nation-wide petition by Hobson's Pledge has shrugged off criticism about the iwi-led checkpoints.

Deets Edwards says despite being called a vigilante by the right-wing lobby group, he believes the checkpoint helped protect the Murupara community.

The Murupara checkpoints have ended.  

But a petition launched by Hobson's Pledge is still labelling Deets Edwards and other community checkpoint volunteers as vigilantes and lawbreakers.  

More than 5000 people have signed the petition asking Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern to stop the remaining 10 or so community checkpoints. 

Deets says volunteering at the checkpoints was purely done out of the love for their community.

"We weren't breaking the law, we were out there greeting people with hello. We didn't physically stand there to force someone to stop. They stopped on their own free will," he explained.

"All the whānau greeted me with a hello, with warm kai, with warmth, everything to do with warmth, love. The people that didn't know me, like everyone else, they'll judge a book by its cover."

The petition coincides with the recent remarks from Simon Bridges and the National Party with raising concerns around the iwi checkpoints. Although the community of Maketū have invited him to see the checkpoint operation for himself, he is yet to show up.

"We haven't heard from Simon Bridges. If you can remember, we've invited him to come, but he has not come yet. 

"You actually have to come out here to understand why the people are doing this," says the volunteers.

Murupara remains at zero COVID cases, as well as Te Whānau a Apanui rohe.

Louis Rapihana says these checkpoints are the reason his region is COVID-free.

Police say all checkpoint operations will end at Alert Level 2, however, Te Whānau a Apanui and other iwi say they will make that decision for themselves.