While New Zealand was in lockdown, some took their own action to block roads and create Fortress Communities. Senior writer David Fisher found the Government stretched itself to make such action legal.
First off, Northland MP Matt King doesn't want this issue seen as one of iwi or race.
"Take the race out of it. One law for everyone," he says. "I think blocking the road off by them is unacceptable."
The "road" he's talking about is State Highway One. The "roadblock" he's talking about went across it about 5km from the end of SH1. The "them" he's talking about is Ngāti Kuri, mana whenua of the furthest north stretches of Aotearoa, including Cape Reinga.
The law he's talking about is the legislation passed by Parliament. King is not talking about tikanga, which is the lore that defines the correct way of doing things in te ao Māori.
In the Far North, at the roadblocks, the law met lore. It was a bit messy but, in a remarkable event, the law was faced with the implacable strength of the lore and found a way to accommodate what it offered.
This is spelled out, in part, through new documents that appear to show how hard the Government worked to find ways to make legal the actions small communities in the Far North were taking to protect their people from Covid-19.
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Those communities, the Herald has found, were isolated and predominantly Māori, whose actions were guided by tikanga principles of mana whenua and kaitiakitanga - that is, the guardianship and other responsibilities of those with traditional authority over an area.
They were actions they were going to take regardless and it appears workarounds by police and transport officials avoided the law having to confront well-meaning, effective, community-minded workers.
King says he doubts he would get the same response if he decided to set up a roadblock and sees it as law breaking that has been legitimised by government agencies.
"People using terms like 'rāhui' and 'cultural'... I think it's dangerous we let people break the law like that."
The documents have come to light through the Official Information Act just over a month after King bundled his family in his four-wheel drive and blasted north to Cape Reinga.
Four days earlier, King had sent a text message to NZ Police's Northland district commander Superintendent Tony Hill, telling him he was heading north to see if the road was clear. That was May 16.
On May 19, a traffic management plan was approved by NZT. It had Hill's name at the top as the applicant, along with Ngāti Kuri, and NZTA's approval made the roadblock at Te Werahi legal.
On May 20, King loaded up the truck with family and headed north. It was now level 2 so travel was fine. As the Prime Minister said, it was what people did when they got to their destination.
King knew what he wanted. "I wanted to see if they would stop me. I'd heard it was locked gates and I wanted to see for myself."
The journey's reward was locked gates. King got out of his vehicle, mobile phone capturing video as he went, and went for a look.
The MP, who calls himself the King of the North, was nearly de-throned on the spot. One of those at the roadblock said: "I'm prepared to knock you out if you go past that gate."
King got back in his car and drove until he appeared on One News at 6pm saying the Covid-19 justifications for the road closure didn't stack up. He told the Herald the same: "They hid behind a range of reasons I couldn't go up there - from Covid to spirits to bones being found."
There wasn't a reason he heard that made any sense, he says.
Ngāti Kuri's Harry Burkhardt followed King on the news that night, telling the story all of New Zealand knows, of how the spirits of the dead leave New Zealand through Cape Reinga. For that reason, Cape Reinga would stay closed until May 29 when there would be a blessing.
King, asked of Ngāti Kuri's standing as mana whenua, said to the Herald: "I don't accept their rights to be able to do that. I don't accept that at all."
The roadblocks which sprung up across the North - little communities like Pawarenga and Panguru - all received the blessing of legality as the red tape of bureaucracy stretched out from Wellington.
When it became clear the communities were not legally allowed to block traffic, police headquarters instructed its districts to make sure there was an officer at every roadblock.
The instruction to make it so came down from police commissioner Andy Coster, who told police commanders in an email that "it's vitally important we have a consistent police presence at any checkpoints we know to be operating".
Coster's emphasis was such that Hill wrote back asking if it meant "staff at these are a priority and not able to be redeployed under any circumstances in the event that a P1 job arises a short distance away". A "P1 job" is a life-or-death scenario.
The police on the ground provided the red tape tick of approval, just as the traffic management plan did for the SH1 roadblock.
It wasn't without confusion. Police had previously denied having anything to do with the SH1 roadblock and yet the traffic management plan approved by NZTA was submitted by Hill, on behalf of police, and Ngāti Kuri, as the co-applicants.
An NZTA spokesman said this was not correct and endorsed the position that police had nothing to do with closing SH1. "The request for the stop-go point came from Ngāti Kuri," said the spokesman.
There is less confusion when the question is asked of Wayne Stokes of Kia Tupata Security and Management. Absolutely it was police, he said, and that is why he filled in "police" on the application. That's who asked him to take on the job, as it did with other roadblocks in the North.
Then, he said, there was a difference of opinion between police and the iwi. "Ngāti Kuri said, 'no, we'll take it from here'", but by then the paperwork had gone in and it wasn't possible to change it.
"Police were trying to use official traffic management plans to manage their relationship with the people who were instrumental to getting them on the ground."
The police made the "law" meet the "lore", finding ways to stretch legislation around an otherwise unmanageable situation. A number of people interviewed for this article positively compared police efforts against the inflammatory Te Urewera raids in 2007.
Those roadblocks were inevitable, says Stokes. "It was a really committed community. They were giving up their time and energy to be a part of it."
They told Stokes about why they were there. They showed him. Rows of graves, markers for those who died 100 years ago when the Spanish flu ripped through the North.
The numbers of Māori dead were never properly recorded. Stokes saw "a lot of white crosses with no names because they didn't even know who they had lost".
And there was benefit to the roadblocks. Stokes, and others interviewed by the Herald, talk of those joyriders who were stopped and turned around in level 3 and level 4.
There's a Maserati that has become famous - it had three slick looking dudes in it who claimed, each time they tried to bust a block, to be local. Each time people get to that part of the story, they start to laugh and sometimes they scream with laughter, "because the local Maserati club is really popular", they say, and then they laugh some more.
Stokes was at one roadblock. He saw it. "They said they were local," he says. There's a little laugh, then he adds: "Oh my."
It was Dame Naida Glavish who introduced the concept of lore versus law when interviewed for this story. She says when those two concepts can see eye to eye, then the Treaty will be on its way to being met.
And she laughs when she hears the phrase "one law for all" because, she says, if those rangatira who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 could see inside our prisons now, they would have put down that quill and walked away.
"It's not one law for everyone," she says. Māori, at 15 per cent of the population, occupy more than 50 per cent of the prison population.
The issue at the roadblocks is not new but the newest engagement of the Third Law of New Zealand, as Supreme Court Justice Joseph Williams described it in a 2013 lecture.
If the First Law was tikanga, prior to European arrival, and the Second Law was the law that arrived with those colonists, then the Third Law was what happened when they came together.
It's not easy, he said. "The reluctance is probably both attitudinal and majoritarian. Power transfer takes courage and vision."
In his lecture, Williams described a legal landscape which New Zealand was only starting to explore. "I hope we Aotearoans are up for it."
An exponent and motivator of the roadblocks was Ngāti Kuri's Sheridan Waitai. She has not responded to requests for an interview on this issue.
Waitai spent the lockdown running the roadblocks on the ground for Ngāti Kuri, showing every bit of grit and resolute determination an earlier generation would have recognised in her grandmother, Saana Murray, who stood tall with Dame Whina Cooper back in the day.
Waitai has made known to the NZ Herald her displeasure with how the roadblock issue has been reported.
In 2013, Waitai spoke to the Herald about her grandmother. Part of that was Murray's championing of the "visionary" Wai262 Treaty of Waitangi claim that sought to establish indigenous rights to flora and fauna. Waitai's words could as easily apply to the roadblocks and the tension between legislation and tikanga.
Waitai said of that claim: "It's not just for Māori but for all New Zealand. Māori control over Māori things is the heart of the claim. I acknowledge that many may not share the same view but for us it is worth standing for, even if at times others feel uncomfortable.
"I think that feeling would change though if all of New Zealand knew the truth and took time to understand our world as Māori.
"All New Zealanders should be given the right to learn the real history of the birth of this nation and they would be better for it. Our country would be better for it."