Ihumātao: Stuart Nash slams 'totally unacceptable' racial abuse of officer

Police Minister Stuart Nash says he supports police at Ihumātao '100 percent' and has slammed a video showing a protestor racially abusing an officer.

"That is not the way to conduct protest in this country. I mean, I've seen a video where a guy went up to an Indian police officer - well, he looked like he was from Indian extraction - and racially abused him. Now, that is just totally unacceptable."

The video emerged during a tense standoff between officers and protesters on Monday night following an increased police presence inflaming tensions. 

Nash told this Newshub Nation on Saturday morning that while police support the right to protest, any violent or racist action is unacceptable. 

"If that's the way you're going to conduct protest, I think you're going to lose good faith - if you've got any at the moment - but, you know, police always will back the right for peaceful protest, without a question of a doubt."

Nash explained why police presence was increased before the standoff, saying they were only acting in self-defence.

"Police got some very reliable intelligence that some of the protestors, who weren't necessarily associated with mana whenua, were going to try and break the police line. Police need to look after the health and wellbeing and health and safety of their own officers."

"They brought reinforcements in, and as it turned out, there was a bit of a mobilisation; there was a bit of a stand-off - but it dissipated and de-escalated."

Nash praised Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Huamaha, who travelled to Ihumātao this week and announced police presence would be reduced following Monday's standoff.

"Wally didn't go in there with a baton and a shield and say "right, we're gonna sort this out like people might have expected in the 1980s'. He went in there with complete good faith and said, 'Look, how do we work together?'" 

Protests at Ihumātao have been ongoing for several years against a planned housing development by Fletchers. Construction has been halted for now and some protestors are calling for the land to be bought from Fletchers and returned to iwi. 

Minister for Whanau Ora, Peeni Henare, previously told Newshub Nation that the Government buying the land would "undermine every treaty settlement to date".

Newshub Nation.