Police and iwi have co-designed the checkpoints, south and north of Tāmaki-Makaurau, working to each other’s strengths, and demonstrating the success of genuine Treaty partnerships.
This has happened due to the combined efforts of Police and iwi working together to put the community at the heart of local policing.
“This is a really great example of positive and constructive working relationships and highlights what can be done when both iwi and Police are open to operating differently and thinking in a more culturally attuned way, to keep our communities safe," says Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha.
"I am very proud of the distance we have travelled together in partnership, valuing the contribution and the experience that sits both within Police and iwi, sharing and caring for each other.
"We have come a long way as an organisation, policing with the consent of our people, that gives reality to that historic tradition - the Police are the public and the public are the Police. Simply put, working together to protect our country from the pandemic.
"It speaks to how we police the boundaries as real partners, recognising Māori mätauranga, knowledge, customs and traditions. But, it’s not just about checkpoints - the strength of what we have done together enables us to have more connected conversations around how we engage with iwi Māori, on a range of issues to keep our people safe.
The Waikato boundary checks started two weeks ago, where karakia was performed on the banks of the Waikato River ahead of the formal establishment of the southern boundary checkpoint of Tāmaki Makaurau, says D/C Haumaha.
"The ancient lament of karakia tawhito was conducted to acknowledge the waiora of the whenua, the awa, Police staff on the checkpoints, and the safe passage of the community."
Karakia was also performed by iwi at the commencement of the northern checkpoints, and Ngāti Whätua have set up vaccination and COVID-19 testing at local marae close to the northern checkpoint to encourage and support local hapū and iwi.
Karakia are an important and traditional practice within te ao Māori to settle, seek spiritual guidance and protection from those past, for those present, and increase the likelihood of a favourable outcome. More importantly, it enables Police to unlock the knowledge, skills and networks in a way that creates genuine engagement and better results.
“To be able to start the operation in this way is fantastic and represents how well policing operations and te ao Māori can work together in partnership.
'Waikato-Tainui leadership are adamant that early engagement, stronger communications and a sense of iwi and hapū working together with Police means containment and protection can be realised."
Rahui Papa of Waikato-Tainui and a member of the Police Commissioner’s Māori Focus Forum says collaboration and meaningful partnership is key.
"Our strengthened relationships with Māori Responsive Managers and District Leaders in both Waikato and Counties Manukau sees issues resolved quickly and efficiently, with cultural considerations at the forefront," says Rahui Papa.
"The place of tikanga and best practice in these relationships is an example, not just for a pandemic context, but further into the future. Long may it last."
Acting Inspector Todd Bartlett, Māori Responsiveness Manager for Waitematā says he is grateful for the support from Ngāti Whätua at the northern checkpoint.
"In terms of the northern checkpoint, Ngāti Whätua has again shown their commitment to the close relationship that we are grateful to share, by having volunteers standing with us on the line and supporting Police and Defence Force.
"Their knowledge of tikanga has been utilised on numerous occasions where staff have benefitted from guidance and support on matters concerning Te Ao Māori.
"Our iwi volunteers have often provided the calming influence when staff have been dealing with emotionally charged situations, particularly around tangihanga."
Dame Naida Glavish of Ngāti Whātua is passionate about the partnership between iwi and Police.
“It’s about meaningful engagement with iwi at all costs. It’s the desire of iwi, that all Māori make testing for COVID and getting a vaccination a priority," she says. "As well as that, iwi want to keep iwi safe and work alongside Police at border controls.”
Waikato Māori want to ensure the safety of their people, says D/C Haumaha.
“In terms of Waikato Māori, they want to keep their people safe from this Delta variant. They are very supportive of Police managing the border and checkpoints and have assisted in addressing any initial border related issues with a local hapū in the area. They have left Police to manage the borders and checkpoints, while they get on with the key task of getting as many of their people vaccinated and supported.
"COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and if we haven’t got the support of iwi Māori and hapū who know the community better than we do, we’ll be struggling.
“This is engagement with our people. This is how to do it well.
"If we want to be proactive Treaty partners this is an exemplar of what it can look like if we engage meaningfully from a Māori perspective. This will resonate with Māori people around the country - and it’s not a big or hard thing to do."
More information, including an updated alert level boundary map, is available on the COVID-19 website covid19.govt.nz.
Issued by Police Media Centre