Waiheke Island protesters who feel they were strong-armed off a heritage site this week by private security guards yesterday asked Auckland mayor Len Brown what he can do for them. But the answer was not what they were wanting to hear.

"I've got very little control over someone protecting their own rights in terms of access. I can't do anything about that," Brown told them outside the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Trust conference in Mt Albert.

The protesters took their fight to the mainland after coming off second-best in a tussle with multi-millionaire Scott Holyoake's security company, which they say is involved in military-style activities overseas.

Around 13 guards from Palmerston North-based Hardcastle Security were waiting with police at Wharetana Bay to greet activist islanders wanting to block the barging of two prefabricated units over esplanade reserve. Eight people were detained by police but no one was charged.


Hardcastle Security, headed by Edinburgh-born Steve Hardcastle, has worked in the Gulf of Aden protecting ships from pirates.

Hardcastle, who has had 26 years experience in the British military, refused to comment about the work of his company in New Zealand or overseas.

Residents claim the guards not only manhandled protesters but were illegally preventing the public from visiting the reserve up until last Wednesday afternoon.

Protester Nikki Green said, "The whole thing with the use of a security company has been over the top. They [the guards] even carried off a 74-year-old, Pam Dalton. And it wasn't gentle."

Brown did say he would be prepared to meet the group later.