Coronavirus: Northland's iwi-led checkpoints prompts racism row after David Seymour calls those manning borders 'thugs'

Northland's new checkpoints have prompted a racism row after ACT leader David Seymour labelled those manning borders and "blocking roads" as "thugs".

Aucklanders are allowed to leave the city from December 15, as long as they're fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

Earlier on Tuesday, police released details on how the checkpoints into Northland will work. Two checkpoints will be set up, one on State Highway 1 at Uretiti and the other on State Highway 12 near Maungaturoto. These will operate 24/7.

Police will stop vehicles, while Tai Tokerau Border Control will help out with checking vaccine passes or proof of negative tests.

They'll be pulling in officers from all over Aotearoa to help out.

"[There will be] 74 per day, and then over a period of a number of weeks there'll be 300 distinct officers who do that duty on a rotational basis," says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says it isn't a good use of resources.

"Fundamentally we're gonna have a thin blue line that just got a lot thinner."

Political opposition to the border plan is growing, and Seymour was asked why he used the word thugs to describe those blocking the roads. 

"People who block roads are thugs. If you listen carefully I haven't actually called iwi thugs, I've called people who block roads and threaten to disrupt other people's freedoms thugs, and that's what they are."

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says the backlash towards iwi working the checkpoints is racist.

"If it was a group of Rotarians or business leaders or farmers helping out the police, they'd be lauded as upstanding citizens, but because it's Māori they're labelled thugs and I think that's wrong."

While police say they won't be stopping every car, travellers should at least expect to be stopped and are warned there may be queues.