A Far North man has expressed genuine fear of the steps some took of their own volition last week to keep people out of Te Hiku.
"I am scared. Really scared. Not because of some virus. We have ways to deal with this. I am scared because our authorities allow people to take the law into their own hands. People with no authority, people with no mandate, who are not elected to represent the people by democratic rules," he said.
"They are allowed to form a private militia, select their own people and block public roads. They are allowed to take away one of the basic human rights from us, the freedom to move."
The resident, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retribution, said he was concerned enough when basic human rights were taken away by the government, and he accepted totally that "in these difficult times" it was necessary to restrict people's movements. But that had to be done in an organised way, following the law.
People who had no jurisdiction to prevent others from movement should not be allowed to do so. "In these difficult times what we need is a sense of security.
"We need to trust people that they will make the right decisions.
"This is what our police force is based on, and our Army and all the other authorities. I can trust a police officer that he acts inside the law. I can't trust some member of the public to do so. How will they be held responsible? How will they check that I actually live here or that I am a visitor? They have no right to ask for my ID.
"On what grounds will they make decisions?
"If I will not follow their instructions, what then? Do they have the right to forcefully stop me from driving down a public road? I have totally lost confidence in my elected government that they will protect me.
"What will come next? We allow members of the public to close public roads, to restrict people's movement with no legal authority. Will they next be allowed entry to my house? Will they next be allowed to search my car or my premises?
"Do you know that the Nazi SS in Germany started in the same way? As a group of volunteers? And then they became so powerful that nobody could stop them anymore. Because the government missed the chance to stop them at the start. Because the authorities didn't prevent them from building up power.
"One of their arguments is that police aren't doing their job. Honestly, if police are standing by and allowing people to erect militia road blocks in the Far North, I have to agree that they are not doing their job," he added.
"I am so scared of this development that I have to ask you to not publish my name.
"And that's exactly what worries me. I usually stand by my opinion. But it worries me, if people are allowed to block roads, that they might seek retribution. Who knows?
On top of being worried about getting sick I now worry about the threat that my human rights can be taken away by anyone who thinks they are entitled to do so."
Gone — for now
Most of the iwi-led 'border control' checkpoints around the Far North were lifted on Thursday, but organisers said they'd be back if people didn't take the lockdown seriously.
Former Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira instigated road blocks at key entry points to the Far North because of what he said was a lack of action by the government to stop the spread of coronavirus. In particular not enough was being done to stop tourists "roaming around the countryside," he said.
Following negotiations with police on Wednesday, the main checkpoint was set up at Waiomio, on State Highway 1 south of Kawakawa, instead of at Whakapara, as originally planned.
The 'medical checkpoint' was set up again on Thursday, but was dismantled at noon. Others were set up on SH1 at Victoria Valley, on SH10 at Cable Bay and Kaeo, and in the Hokianga, targeting tourist traffic using the Rawene ferry.
Rueben Taipari said 10 motorists were turned back at Waiomio and about 50 across all checkpoints. Hundreds were spoken to over the two-day period. A couple of vehicles were turned back at Victoria Valley, but traffic was light, and most people heading north were on their way home isolate themselves.
Mr Taipari said he had expected confrontation, but there had been very little. Some locals felt put out but others were supportive, saying the checkpoints made them feel reassured.
"I'm still getting feedback that there are some tourists wandering around and people not following the rules of the lockdown," he added.
"We're on standby. If it looks like people aren't taking it seriously we'll take action again."
Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said blocking traffic was not legal under the Land Transport Act, but those who had set up the checkpoints were passionate people, "tangata whenua, who have strong views on keeping their community safe. While we didn't partake we made sure everyone involved kept themselves safe and responded to any concerns from the public."
"Others were supportive, so we had a balanced approach."