A large police presence separated protesters from attendees at the Ōrewa leg of anti co-governance roadshow that previously sparked protests at other stops.
The meeting, organised by Julian Batchelor and held at the council-owned Ōrewa Community Centre, was billed as voicing opposition to Government plans on co-governance and to the actions of what Batchelor describes as “Elite Māori”.
Video from the event showed a heated atmosphere, with protesters shouting in response to statements made by Batchelor and confrontations between individual attendees and protestors.
The protest was led by local iwi Ngāti Manuhiri and members of Te Herenga Waka o Ōrewa Marae.
Mikaela Matenga (Tūhourangi, Tūwharetoa, Rongowhakaata, Te Arawa) who filmed video at the event, described the attendees’ behaviour as “volatile” and said she could “sense the fear” in the crowd.
“I think that that’s the saddest thing, I guess from my standing point is that they’ve been given all this misinformation about co-governance,” she told the Herald.
Matenga said many in the crowd objected to being filmed and claimed she was pushed during the heating confrontation and told that she “needed Jesus”.
She said protesters needed to shout to be heard over the din and Batchelor’s microphone, but that it was necessary to counter what she said was “misinformation” and comments that denigrated Māori.
“That is not the right way to go about any conversation about co-governance”.
Video recorded by Matenga showed participants standing to shout “No” to co-governance after an invitation from Batchelor. As she filmed the moment and approached attendees some attempted to block the camera while another came closer to shout her response.
At another point, protesters performed a rendition of Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi which was met by the National Anthem from attendees.
Hibiscus and Bay Local Board Member Jake Law told the Herald he attended the meeting in an observational capacity because he knew it would be contentious and had concerns about safety.
He said the presentation featured misinformation and discriminatory remarks against Māori.
“I think it’s a shame really because it actually tars people with his brush, people that those that want to criticise co-governance in the right way,” Law told the Herald.
“He’s criticising opponents in a way that mixes in discriminatory remarks towards Māori, his personal opinions and interpretation of the Treaty.
“There’s a lot of what I would say is misinformation, but also pandering to people’s fears as well.
“People are afraid of what co-governance might be and he’s feeding into that, you know, by painting the worst-case scenario in a scenario that I don’t think is realistic.”
Police told the Herald they maintained a presence at the meeting to ensure it was conducted safely.
“Our priority is the safety of all, so we had staff monitoring the event to be able to respond to any matters should they arise.
“The event concluded peacefully and attendees dispersed without issue,” they said in a statement.
This story has been updated.