GUEST BLOG: Moana Maniapoto – CHECKPOINTS

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Tonight is a shout out to everyone who left their bubbles to protect ours. Particularly Māori-led groups who have worked proactively and collaboratively alongside police, authorities and companies to support tiny vulnerable communities most high profile critics have likely never visited. 

There have been few complaints about these collectives delivering food parcels and hygiene packs or running mobile testing clinics. But now critics are trying to reframe community checkpoints as a law and order issue. Some say that’s all about exploiting racist fears to score political points. 

Let’s face it – if a group of Pākehā flagged down a car to dish out pamphlets on Covid, would anyone kick up a stink? We don’t when school patrols stop cars at pedestrian crossings. Or guys in high vis vests flag us down at big festivals or sports events. We appreciate that volunteers work alongside police and authorities to co-ordinate traffic management plans, to finetune health and safety procedures for everybody’s benefit.

Same with the checkpoints and community safe zones. Locals know locals – and their tricks. Police appreciate that. Last week, Police Commissioner Coster told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee there was “nothing unlawful” about police-supervised roadblocks which check that people are complying with the level 3 controls that are in place.”

Safe. Legal and co-ordinated. 

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Māori and iwi-led responses from the East Coast to Bay of Plenty, Murupara to Kaitaia, throughout Taranaki and elsewhere should take a bow. For acting selflessly in service of all New Zealanders. Our local response to a global pandemic is inspiring communities on the other side of the world. 

Even the Human Rights Commission has described community checkpoints as “a positive example of the treaty partnership in action.” Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha told this show that “collaborating and coming together is an opportunity for all of us to reset the dial.” And it’s happening beyond the checkpoints, that’s the exciting thing. 

Let’s drown out the static and build on it. 

 

Moana Maniapoto is the host of Te Ao with MOANA, 8pm Maori TV

19 COMMENTS

  1. The second one wouldn’t generate that much ad revenue because there’s an unwritten rule amongst multimedia providers that you only parade brown bodies accross middle class televisions. They don’t want to see themselves being hypocrites there’s no money in that.

  2. Look, I get the intention but these checkpoints are outside the law unless staffed by police who are duly authorised and know what the rules are.
    This opens up a huge and dangerous precedent. What are the checks and balances? The Independent Community Checkpoints Complaints Authority?

  3. I think the police actually reacted pretty well to the situation, despite National trying to stir up trouble with their usual racial/law and order rhetoric.
    The police, although acknowledging that the checkpoints/roadblocks were technically illegal, were prepared to live with them as long as the people didn’t go overboard, threaten people physically, hijack cars, etc.
    And it seems for the most part it was handled appropriately, nobody got shot or beaten up and many people, including community leaders, appreciated that these people were helping to save lives.
    And it wasn’t just Maori at the checkpoints either, but if you believe National it was either the Mongrel Mob or Black Power with their gang patches on.

  4. Yes. A big thanks to all the essential workers who have helped those most in need. And a high proportion of the essential workers, and providers of food parcels, etc, are people on low incomes, which means a high proportion are Māori.

    I’m a city pākehā and have been annoyed at the way the media, cheered on by some others, who have kept on criticising rural checkpoints. They always seemed like a sensible idea to me. They also seem to be very well and respectfully run.

  5. Kia ora Moana
    Once we put the situation in its broad historical and social context Pakeha of good faith can more easily see the benefit of community epidemic checkpoints which are nothing new to the world or to this country.
    They have been used for centuries by Maori and European communities in situations such as the present epidemic, and they have a basis in both tikanga Maori and English common law.
    Just three kilometres from where I sit a checkpoint was set up during the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic to separate the kainga of Manaia (where the flu had affected eight whanau) from the town of Coromandel (which remained free of contagion). Maori did not complain. They understood the concerns and actions of their neighbours over the hill. Thankfully the people of Manaia managed to contain and suppress the outbreak in their own community and all ended well.
    It also now appears that the New Zealand Police themselves had no specific legal authority to setup and operate checkpoints. In other words they may have had no legal rights over and above that of the ordinary citizen. Yet few are complaining on that score.
    The questions we need to ask are “Were the checkpoints in place for good reasons, and were they operated in a kind, courteous and reasonable manner?”. In the great majority of cases the answer would be “Yes, and yes”.

  6. Allowing any sector of society to operate illegal checkpoints for whatever well intentioned reason, is foolish, divisive and dangerous for social cohesion.

    Worse when patched gang members are present, allowed to operate as essential services when some working people are going broke because they aren’t allowed to work.

    It’s interesting watching people’s real natures on display under crisis, who are the curtain twitchers and brown shirts and first to turn authoritarian.
    Not always who you think.

    • Totally agree. Our current situation is reminiscent of the former East Germany and it’s been an interesting experiment in how people living under an authoritarian govt react. In NZ, we’d like to think that we push back against being told how to live but it is actually surprising, how many people are comfortable with being told what to and to nark on neighbors and encourage punishment for misdeeds.

      I’ve also found out about myself…I know for sure I would have spent my evenings trying to dig a tunnel under the wall

      • BG: “In NZ, we’d like to think that we push back against being told how to live but it is actually surprising, how many people are comfortable with being told what to and to nark on neighbors and encourage punishment for misdeeds.”

        Yeah, I’ve noticed this as well, and I’m mightily disturbed by it. I’m astonished at how little protest there’s been. I’ve wondered if I was the only one? The unquestioning acceptance by so many of having our rights and liberties so seriously crimped bothers the hell out of me.

        “…I would have spent my evenings trying to dig a tunnel under the wall.”

        Heh! Me too. I wonder if it’s the Irish coming out in me; my late father said that being “agin’ the government” was a default position for the Irish. No doubt it was true at the time he was reported to have said it.

        In the current environment, I’ve kicked over the traces in every way that was open to me. Without getting arrested…..

    • Keepcalmcarryone “Allowing any sector of society to operate illegal checkpoints for whatever well intentioned reason, is foolish, divisive and dangerous for social cohesion.”

      Totally agree. More so when the NZ has handled this crisis in an exemplary way, and most people have understood, and responded accordingly.

      Moana states : “Locals know locals – and their tricks”, which also suggests that their own people are the ones not behaving responsibly, not the big bad outside world.

      Hats off to the front-line supermarket workers – where I live, mainly Asian and slightly nervous students – and the front-line police, hated on principle – the ethnically diverse bus drivers, and the nurses and medicos. They are all heroes, all of them.

  7. “Drown out the static”? Do you mean stifle debate? Not listen to a variety of different views? Put the fingers in the ears and yell ‘lalalalala’? No I just want to see the legal basis for these roadblocks foremost, especially for precedent moving forward. If consents were not obtained for blocking public roads then there has to be an investigation (it couldn’t have been a police emergency situation because I saw in one checkpoint photo a relaxed selfie of Hone without PPE embracing someone running the roadblock who was in full PPE. At least they weren’t dancing like those health workers at the covid testing stations). If I get blocked from using a road by a posse in masks it isn’t racist to ask who these people are or what authority they have, it’s my right. And were there actually laws in place covering freedom of travel during this time, not just government ‘advisories’ which dictated how we were to behave? And since when can police now deputise members of the public to take on duties of sworn officers? David Fisher wrote a paywalled article recently that reported police were not present at all checkpoints in any case (Fisher, 2020). Jacinda and the police should present their documentation for these roadblocks including who authorised them and who was involved.

    Fisher, D. (2020). Coronavirus Covid-19: Top cop flip flop on claims police present at roadblocks. Retrieved from
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12329092

    • Popeye: ““Drown out the static”? Do you mean stifle debate? Not listen to a variety of different views?”

      You have nailed it. In particular, it’s an attempt to deflect critique by people who aren’t Maori. As it happens, it isn’t just non-Maori questioning the checkpoints. See this:

      https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/121368678/iwirun-coronavirus-checkpoints-are-a-nonsense-but-police-arent-stopping-them

      “If I get blocked from using a road by a posse in masks it isn’t racist to ask who these people are or what authority they have, it’s my right.”

      Precisely. And none of this was justified by the state of emergency. In my view, the police’s approach to these checkpoints has been pusillanimous.

      Some time back, we were blocked from using SH1 by a funeral procession, walking a coffin from a marae to a cemetery. The distance was almost 1 kilometre. There was a police car accompanying the mourners. Given that we were on business, on our way to another appointment, we were seriously inconvenienced by the considerable delay.

      No way of knowing if a permit had been applied for and issued. But even so, were any of the rest of us to try this sort of thing, you can bet that we’d be refused permission.

      • D’Esterre – The check point at Makara on Wellington’s south coast, looks as if it was implemented by a couple of Pakeha. After the first photo of it appeared online, it looks as if most of the settlement joined in, and they are a fairly diverse bunch including one fellow of whom I know who supplemented the contents of his deep freeze by shooting a wild goat and an alleged wild sheep. It’s a lovely spot – perhaps with more to fear now from the sea flooding up the main street than from blockade busters, but nevertheless they stood their ground, and we who cherish Makara were not tempted to transgress, and sheep could safely graze…

        • Snow White: “The check point at Makara…”

          I’d heard about that. From what I saw of the coverage, it looked to be Maori involved, along with other residents.

          I take the same view of that checkpoint as I do of all the others: unless it was set up by the police, it was illegal. Those staffing it were on shaky ground attempting to stop anyone travelling on that road.

          This is what we’re all repeatedly enjoined by the police not to do: taking the law into our own hands. It wasn’t justified by the state of emergency.

          In any event, none of those communities was in any danger from the spread of coronavirus; as we’ve seen, of course. But the msm coverage from overseas has been so hysterical – and from reporters who obviously have zip knowledge of the biology – that it’s not surprising that people here have completely got hold of the wrong end of the viral stick. And that’s exacerbated by those insisting that there’s community transmission here in NZ; blithe disregard for the fact that, if this is happening, nobody’s getting sick enough to go to the doctor. So what the hell is anyone worrying about?

          Many people are simply in a blind panic: I’ve heard stories from relatives and neighbours about people having hysterics over what they see as other people getting too close to them, either out walking or in the supermarket. We laugh about it, but it’s disconcerting at the very least. And in my experience, it’s next to impossible to persuade people out of their panic, because it’s just reinforced by the next news item out of the UK or the US. Sadly.

          The msm is strangely silent about the stats from Australia, I have noticed. I have family in southern Queensland/northern NSW. The restrictions there have been much looser than they have here; Queensland’s population is a bit over 5 million, so a little larger than NZ’s, yet its cases – as of a day or so ago – total 1043, with 6 deaths. Nowadays, Brisbane’s population is larger than that of Auckland, and the coastal area, from the Sunshine coast all the way down to Tweed, just over the border in NSW, is full of older people. As anyone who’s been there knows. So: 6 deaths. Even NSW, with a population of just under 8 million, has only 3042 cases and 46 deaths.

          Everyone would do well to get a grip; remember that we have many more deaths every year when seasonal flu belts us about the ears – and poor communities suffer disproportionate disease and death – yet I don’t see any suggestion of checkpoints or mass house arrest at those times.

  8. No Moana, I don’t believe it’s about racism. If any group of people other than police set themselves up to stop motorists on the open road and ask them where they’re going, they’re going to get some people’s hackles up.

    And patched gang members on some checkpoints? That’s on the nose.

  9. “Some say that’s all about exploiting racist fears to score political points.”

    Who are these people? The only comment of this sort that I’ve seen has come from Maori themselves.

    Please: don’t fling about the “racism” epithet, in an attempt to deflect perfectly legitimate critique of the legality of these checkpoints. It’s disingenuous and increasingly tiresome.

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