Large police influx divides protesters at Ihumātao

By Te Ao - Māori News

Police reinforcements have arrived at Ihumātao (Source: Facebook).

Police have again increased their presence at Ihumātao, dividing those who have occupied the land in peaceful protest from their frontline.  

According to sources on the ground, police began forming rank around homes and separated the groups from each other, preventing people and supplies from passing.

Local resident and beneficiary of Makaurau Marae, Haki Wilson says the police movement was a shock after peaceful discussion and negotiations continued at Ihumātao throughout the day.

A livestream of the situation as it unfolded on showed the unrest and tension as people asked police what they were doing.

Wilson says police started using their cars to barricade certain areas and a large number of them appeared from a house nearby just after 7pm this evening.

He says the entire group is saddened and shocked as whānau in discussion with police throughout the day were never told to expect this.

Many of those camping at Ihumātao were in the middle of cooking dinner when the police increased their numbers.

“The police came out of the house and started barricading with their cars and people were cooking and next minute they started pushing forward they came out of the house and reinforced their line.”

Superintendent Jill Rogers confirmed in a statement that a decision was made by police to deploy additional numbers.

She says police are "continuing to monitor the situation at Ihumatao and assess our operational response".

According to the statement, police are also continuing to have dialogue with protest organisers to ensure protest action remains peaceful.

Demonstrators claim that kai, wai and other supplies are being prevented from reaching the frontline.

The livestream of events is streaming continuously on Facebook and people gathered there are holding karakia and singing waiata as tension has reduced.

Despite earlier reports, police have also confirmed no arrests have been made and no further eviction or trespass notices have been issued.