Green MPs lash out at police for 'unnecessary' arrests of protesters at Waiheke Island's Kennedy Point marina development

Green MPs Chlöe Swarbrick and Elizabeth Kerekere have blasted police for arresting protesters at Waiheke Island's controversial Kennedy Point/Pūtiki Bay marina.

Some locals, iwi, and environmental activists have been battling to stop the marina for years, including taking an appeal to the High Court, amid concerns it will damage marine ecosystems and penguin habitats.

However, the marina is still going ahead - with work beginning earlier this year. The beach has been regularly occupied by protesters since, in an attempt to stop further work.

In a statement, Insp Dave Hines said people had been arrested for trespassing on Thursday. He said the ongoing situation at Kennedy Point has been monitored "to ensure the safety of everyone involved".

Following the arrests, the Green Party released a statement calling for the work to stop immediately and condemning the "unnecessary" police presence at the protest.

"For months, I've been working with Ngāti Pāoa Uri, the local board and council on [the] protection of Pūtiki," said Swarbrick, MP for Auckland Central.

"My correspondence with the Hauraki Gulf Forum saw them formally confirm that the kind of ocean sprawl we will see with this Marina is irreconcilable with the Marine Park's intent, let alone Ngāti Pāoa's rāhui placed sixth months ago."

Swarbrick said development at the cost of the environment is "outrageous and unacceptable".

"Development must stop until Ngāti Paoa, as kaitiaki of the land, are satisfied Te Tiriti is being honoured."

Protestors have previously raised concerns about rock removal that could destroy penguin habitats, but Kennedy Point Marina director Kitt Littlejohn said rocks would only be moved temporarily.  

However, Swarbrick alleges work that took place on Thursday "bulldoze over this".

"Moving these rocks is like taking away the foundations of someone's house," Swarbrick said.

"Developers are likely breaching their resource consent and are damaging the habitat and threatening the lives of this endangered species," added Green Māori Development spokesperson Dr Kerikeri.

"The works must stop. Our people are putting their bodies on the line to protect our taonga and whenua."

Hines said officers recognise the lawful right to protest, but "also recognise the right of people to go about their lawful business".

"The developers have completed work for today and police are slowly removing the number of staff present as we continue to monitor the situation."