Coronavirus: Northland MP pleads for ban on community roadblocks after Kaikohe couple 'harassed', 'detained'

The MP for Northland is urging the Government to ban community roadblocks during the coronavirus crisis after being inundated with complaints of intimidation and harassment from his constituents.

National MP Matt King acknowledges the checkpoints are "well-intentioned", but says reports of negative experiences should see them outlawed in Northland and throughout New Zealand.

King says they're illegal, and is urging police to intervene.

"Although many of them are well-meaning, I've had a large number of people contact me getting harassed and intimidated," he told Newshub.

"[They] are too scared through fear of retaliation to come out publicly, but they are contacting myself and my staff privately.

"I think the Government, Police Minister and senior police need to shut them down [and] communicate to the people that are doing them that they're illegal and need to be stopped immediately."

King's plea comes after an incident earlier this week in which a Kaikohe couple was forced to call police for help after being "harassed and illegally detained" by volunteers at a Te Tai Tokerau Border Control roadblock.

The checkpoints, set up by former Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, have been in place since last month.

They were established with the intention of stopping international tourists travelling around the country during the coronavirus crisis, but their main function now is to prevent Kiwis breaking their household 'bubbles' during the alert level 4 lockdown.

King says despite their noble goal, the checkpoints are poorly executed.

"There are people on these roadblocks that shouldn't be on them," he said.

"They don't have the correct PPE (personal protective equipment), they don't understand what needs to happen and the way to conduct themselves, and people's basic human rights are being infringed by their behaviour."

Wally Haumaha, Deputy Commissioner of Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Services, told Newshub that police were aware of the Kaikohe incident, but wouldn't be putting a stop to the roadblocks.

"No person should be prevented from accessing essential services, and police has engaged with those operating checkpoints and have advised them on the appropriate way of engaging with members of the public," he said earlier this week.

"Police has previously spoken around Iwi-led checkpoints - while our officers are not deployed to them, we do have staff visiting them to provide community reassurance and ensure they are operating safely."