Iwi leaders condemn group attempting to breach lockdown borders in 'Hīkoi of Truth'

Police have stopped a group attempting to breach several lockdown borders to take part in what they say is a hīkoi to Waitangi.

Calling it a 'Hīkoi of Truth', it was timed to coincide with Declaration of Independence Commemorations. But iwi in Auckland and Northland want the group to stay where they are. 

At the southern border at Mercer and to the north of Auckland near Te Hana, travellers were bound for Waitangi. But they didn't get very far.

The group say they have a right to travel, some arguing 'without medical discrimination'. But Auckland and Northland iwi say they don't want people breaching borders.

"A large hīkoi coming from Rotorua, you know south of Mercer border, going to the north, it adds a lot of risk - risk that we don't really need. And we have told whanau and other iwi this hoo-ha is hoha," says Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua chief operating officer Antony Thompson.

"Our position at this stage in terms of safety for our whanau, we do not want people to move through the borders from Auckland to Tai Tokerau," adds Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi chair Wane Wharerau.

Hone Harawira, who is part of Tai Tokerau Border Control that run their own checkpoints in the north, says he's grateful they haven't been let through.

"There was no formal invitation from any credible source, suggesting we wanted unvaccinated outsiders to come to the Tai Tokerau for any reason at all," he says.

Around 100 people were waiting at the southern end of Auckland trying to get into the city. Police moved the group away from the checkpoint onto a section of gravel on the side of the road. They say at 2:30am this morning a number of people moved onto the motorway blocking traffic, 30 minutes later a police line was used to move them back to where they are now.

Others showed their support from inside the Auckland border preparing food to try and take to them.

"We want to make sure that whanau is able to travel, to Waitangi," one person said.

While at the northern end of the city protesters stood and waited.

"The hīkoi is a group of people standing up against what they perceive as Government corruption," a protester said.

A group of people have already managed to get to Waitangi from other parts of the country including anti-vaccination protestors.

But the message from those north remains.

"We want to make sure safety of our whanau is paramount," Wharerau says.

And breaching lockdown restrictions doesn't help.