Ihumātao protest: Police reject Pania Newton's claims she was 'rammed' by officers

Ihumātao protest organiser Pania Newton claims she was rammed by police with a gate on Monday night causing her to fall over, but police are rejecting those allegations.

The number of police at the site in south Auckland was increased on Monday as police wanted to ensure a peaceful protest.

Newton says just before prayers at 7pm, police cordoned off the road and separated the front line of protesters from the rest of the demonstration.

"Immediately that caused panic and fear among the land protectors," she told the AM Show.

"A number of male police officers were quite physical with some of our female land protectors, and we're very confused as to why that happened last night at our time of prayer."

Newton says she was walking over to the front line when the altercation, which was captured in a Facebook video, occurred.

"I was really concerned that there were a number of minors at the front line so I was coming through the gate and a police officer ran over, rammed me with the gate I was coming through, and I did fall to the ground," she says.

A screenshot from the Facebook video.
A screenshot from the Facebook video. Photo credit: Hone Harawira / Facebook

She's reassured the public that she's unhurt and no one was injured at Ihumātao on Monday evening. She claims both parties had agreed earlier in the day to reduce their numbers, and the increased police presence came as a surprise to the land protectors.

But Superintendent Jill Rogers rejects allegations that "a protester was pushed over" and said there was "misinformation being circulated suggesting police have broken agreements with protesters".

Rogers says yesterday's increased police presence followed a meeting with organisers where protesters "communicated their intent to move past the cordon and reoccupy the land".

"Despite repeated warnings from police, a large group of protestors attempted to bypass the police cordon. Police attempted to stop those trespassing, but protestors pushed their way past our staff," Rogers said in a statement.

"The protestors eventually vacated the private land and no arrests were made."

She said police "cannot facilitate unlawful activity by allowing protesters who have been served an eviction notice to trespass on private land".

Rogers wanted to acknowledge "the incredible professionalism" staff showed throughout the last two weeks "despite at times being subjected to verbal abuse, being physically shoved and even in some cases being spat on".

Activist Haki Wilson previously told Newshub police numbers swelled with no warning.

"Everyone was cooking sausage sizzles, singing songs, doing what we do with our tamariki and next minute the lines just started pushing forward. They came out of the house and reinforced their line."

Newshub.

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