Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira has described a group planning a hīkoi today through the Covid-hotspot of Auckland to Waitangi as ''Pākehā anti-vaxxers'' trying to take over He Whakaputanga commemorations.
Organisers of the Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth (SHOT) say participants will start at various points in the North Island, including Rotorua and the Waikato, before travelling through level 3 Auckland and arriving at Te Tii Marae at noon on Wednesday.
They said the car hīkoi was a ''declaration of independence for all people of Aotearoa New Zealand'' and that a pōwhiri would be held at each checkpoint to allow them through.
The hīkoi is timed to coincide with the annual He Whakaputanga commemorations, which in normal years draw large numbers of people to the campground next to Te Tii Marae.
He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) was signed in Waitangi on October 28, 1835, by 34 northern chiefs.
Harawira, a former Tai Tokerau MP, described the hīkoi as ''a scam'' organised by Pakehā anti-vaxxers.
''There is no invitation from Waitangi Marae, no invitation from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, no invitation from Ngāti Kawa or Ngāti Rahiri, and no invitation from Ngāpuhi,'' he said.
Harawira said anyone who wanted to honour the anniversary of He Whakaputanga should hikoi to the place their ancestors signed it, and anyone who wanted to criticise the government's vaccination programme should march to Wellington.
Harawira said the hīkoi ''posed a direct threat to the health and well-being of the people of the North'' and added urgency to his calls to increase Covid restrictions and tighten up regional borders.
However, a hīkoi organiser told the Advocate the group had spoken to the marae chairman and a Waitangi kaumātua, and had set up their campsite yesterday.
''We've had a lot of people trying to stop this but you know what, they can't. We have been sitting too long doing nothing that works for the people,'' she said.
Marae chairman Ngati Kawa Taituha said Waitangi had a long history of standing up for what was right, seeking justice, challenging the government and keeping it accountable.
''It's good that people are getting passionate about their views and want their voice to be heard, that supports freedom of expression,'' he said.
Commemorations would get underway at 5am on Thursday at Tou Rangatira, near Te Tii Marae, with karakia, flag raising ceremony, roll call and waiata.
As kaitiaki of the Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti, Ngāpuhi would keep the kaupapa's fires burning.
However, Tai Tokerau Border Control had contacted him to say they were mobilising and police were also patrolling the Auckland borders.
The message he had been given was that anyone coming from south of Te Hana would be turned back if they didn't have exemption papers.
''Whether people agree with it or not, the TBC will not take the risk with Covid and believe in protecting the North's health, economy and especially our kaumātua. That is a staunch stance which has merit.''
Ngāti Whātua leader Dame Naida Glavish said the iwi was not against the hīkoi, only the timing of it.
It could generate more cases of Covid-19 in Northland, which was struggling to get vaccination rates up, she said.
"There is enough pressure on what Ngāti Whātua are doing at the checkpoints. This hīkoi is unhelpful, supported by people who are anti-vaccination. Have your hoo-ha when this is done and dusted, right now the hoo-ha is hōhā,'' she said.
The Te Hana checkpoints are operated by Ngāti Whātua, police and the Defence Force.
He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, which predated the Treaty of Waitangi by five years, consisted of four articles stating that mana and sovereign power in New Zealand resided fully with Māori. The Northern chiefs decided on New Zealand's first flag during the same gathering.