Police have rejected claims from Ihumātao protesters that police staff manhandled at least one of them at the site last night.

The response comes after tensions rose at the historical site in Māngere when a police presence was ramped up suddenly yesterday.

Protest organiser Pania Newton said she was walking through a gate when a police officer rammed her with it - causing her to fall to the ground.

She said she was "fine'' and luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

Advertisement

Video of the incident shows someone repeatedly yelled out "police brutality".

Newton earlier told MediaWorks: "I was really concerned that there were a number of minors at the front line, so I was coming through the gate and a police officer ran over, rammed the gate I was coming through and I did fall to the ground.

"A number of male police officers were quite physical with some of our female land protectors, and we're very confused as to why that happened last night at our time of prayer."

However, police have responded to the claims and explained their version of last night's events.

Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers said: "Police reject allegations that a protester was pushed over."

Rogers said police had held regular meetings with organisers to make sure the protest action remained peaceful.

Focus: Ihumātao protesters have called for a "national day of action" and gather outside Parliament. Video / Mark Mitchell

But police were forced to take action when it was indicated that the protesters were about to make a move of their own.

"Yesterday, during a meeting with organisers, the protesters communicated their intent to move past the cordon and reoccupy the land.

Advertisement

"In response to this, Police [were] required to increase our presence at the site. Officers had to be taken off their other duties to come to the protest site.''

Rogers said despite repeated warnings from police officers, a large group of people attempted to bypass the police cordon.

Officers tried to stop those trespassing, but protesters pushed their way past, she said.

The group later left the area and no arrests were made.

"We would like to acknowledge the incredible professionalism our staff showed yesterday evening and throughout the last two weeks; despite at times being subjected to verbal abuse, being physically shoved and even in some cases, being spat on.''

Rogers said authorities would continue to assess the situation and its operational response - including talking to protest organisers.

Advertisement

- Additional reporting: Newstalk ZB