A police officer was bitten by a protester as they attempted to move a large group of demonstrators who had blocked the state highway at Auckland's northern checkpoint.
Waitematā's top cop condemned the incident while Te Rūnanga O Ngāti Whātua criticised the anti-lockdown demonstrators for putting Tai Tokerau at "major" risk at such a crucial time.
The stand against lockdowns, vaccine mandates, the Government, and media was among several "freedom and choice" marches staged nationwide on Tuesday.
The Te Hana checkpoint experienced the first of the drama around 7am when about 50 Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth (SHOT) protesters descended on the northern side of the boundary.
They positioned themselves and their vehicles on SH1 which stopped traffic passing through the checkpoint for more than an hour.
Vehicles were towed as the disruption caused traffic to back up for about three hours, Waitematā district commander Superintendent Naila Hassan said.
A small contingent of Northland police was sent to the border to assist Auckland officers.
"The actions of protesters required our staff to physically intervene to move them off the road.
"In the process one of our offices has been bitten by an as yet unidentified protester."
Fortunately, a police spokesperson said, the officer did not require urgent medical treatment.
"Actions like this are totally avoidable and pose unnecessary risk to our staff who are simply trying do their part in preventing the spread of Covid-19," Hassan said.
The Advocate understands police issued several warnings to people involved.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua has condemned the Te Hana border protest as it threatened to disrupt vital medical and food supplies for Northland.
Chief operating officer Antony Thompson said while protesters took the "opportunity to grandstand their issue", the region lost more than an hour of thoroughfare.
"...which may prove disastrous for our region," he said.
There was "already a range of pressing issues" evolving in the North that caused hardship – such as the rise in daily Covid cases, Thompson said.
"Thoughtless moves like this is putting whānau in danger so urges members of these groups to think about the impact they are having on those they believe they are trying to protect."
By 8am only 15 protesters were left standing at the border until they rejoined the group back in Whangārei to tour their cause throughout the city centre.
They added their voice to a peaceful and lawful protest already under way by around 60 education workers standing against vaccine mandates.
Together they toured the city centre showcasing banners and flags at each of their destinations – which included the offices of Whangārei-based list MP Dr Shane Reti, Whangārei MP Emily Henderson, and the Northern Advocate; before finishing at Forum North.
They left chalked messages on footpaths that called for the "freedom to choose" and demanded, "media tell the truth".
Sergeant Ryan Gray, of Northland Police, said the "lawful" march had been "peaceful" and "respectful".
Police had been aware there were rumblings of a protest planned for the city centre and were "out and about" ensuring "everyone was kept safe", he said.
At one point they blocked off Bank St, Cameron St, and Dent St while the horde of protesters moved between locations.
Yesterday's protests in Northland play out as multiple demonstrations, linked to the Freedoms and Rights Coalition, unfolded around the country.
Thousands of protesters massed in Tauranga, Auckland, and on the steps of Parliament in Wellington calling for an end to Government vaccine mandates and lockdowns.