Police are monitoring the actions of frustrated residents at popular beach and historic settlements where signs and blockades have sprung up to keep visitors out during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It comes as the National Iwi Chairs Forum activated a pandemic response group and called on police to enforce the lockdown with military support.

A sign at Maketu warns tourists to stay away. Photo / George Novak
A sign at Maketu warns tourists to stay away. Photo / George Novak

The warnings on banners and signs that read "Residents only", or "Trespassers will be boiled" have been erected at Raglan, Piha, Maketu in the Bay of Plenty, Ōhinemutu at Lake Rotorua and Makara near Wellington.

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At the historic Māori village of Ohinemutu residents told the Rotorua Daily Post tourists were still arriving at the traditional village, wandering streets and snapping photos, in spite of the lockdown.

The signs there read: "Ohinemutu is closed to all" and "Non-residents and tourists! Keep out".

The author, resident Inia Maxwell, said locals were annoyed at the attitudes of some of the visitors they asked to leave.

A sign at Piha advises people to stay in their own neighbourhood. Photo / Michael Craig
A sign at Piha advises people to stay in their own neighbourhood. Photo / Michael Craig

"They were a bit snippy and asked if they were doing anything wrong. That started to irritate locals because they were answering back."

At Piha "Residents only" signs went up the entrance to the black-sand beach township after concerns were aired on the Karekare and Piha Facebook pages and the amount of people driving there.

Under alert level 4, people have been warned by Police Commissioner Mike Bush not to drive to the beach.

At Raglan in the Waikato, residents were annoyed when "muppet" surfers defied the first day of lockdown and went for a surf at the famous left-hand point break.

Volunteers and healthcare staff still make time for Tik Tok dances. Video / Uawa Live

The well-known Makara Peak near Wellington has been closed to mountain-bikers in the fight against the spread of the disease, though it remains open for walkers.


Tik Tok videos have also sprung up in the move to deter movement around the country.

It follows discussions last week in the isolated East Coast community of Hicks Bay about setting up road blocks to prevent travellers and out-of towners from entering.

This week the Iwi Chairs pandemic response group pointed to the police alert level 4 complaints line that logged more than 4000 complaints about breaking the rules shortly after it was set up.

Group co-lead Mike Smith said a call for the military to properly enforce the lockdown was rejected by Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

"New Zealand police say they've got numbers to handle it, but feedback from iwi tells us a different story, and not just during the pandemic, either," Smith said.

"Māori know from years of experience that, especially in remote areas, police are under-resourced and short-staffed.

"The call for military support is about keeping whānau safe, and about protecting frontline police during the pandemic too."

Co-lead Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said whānau all over the country were making huge sacrifices to keep themselves and communities safe from Covid-19 by adjusting customary practises.

"The least the Government can do is deal with those in our society who obviously have total disregard for the lives of other people.

"Concern for whānau, hapū and wider communities is urgent. Many households are intergenerational, with community transmission recognised as a greater risk."

But she said up and down the country iwi were reporting non-essential travel at night, and tourists and recreational activities continuing on as normal.

"We want stronger policing and enforcement of the lockdown. Protect our whānau, protect our whakapapa, save lives."

Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah-Stuart Black told media at one of this week's coronavirus update that police were aware some communities had expressed concern about the welfare of their residents, and taken steps to express their concerns including signage or road obstructions to prevent travel into or through their area.

"Where police are aware of these they have been speaking to those involved to provide education and advice to ensure the safety of all members of our communities."

The police focus remained on maintaining public safety, security and public order, she said.

A police spokeswoman said: "Our officers will still have discretion in how they deal with matters and how they are enforced and all situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis".

Everyone could assist by continuing to self-isolate in their own homes and if they wish to exercise remaining within their neighbourhood, she said.

Travel should be restricted to that which is essential and only necessary to obtain food or medical assistance.

"Stay calm, be compassionate and kind to one another, and have confidence that police and our partners are here to support all communities.

"Right now we are encouraging everyone to stay home and stay safe – so we can save lives."

Any breaches of the alert level 4 restrictions can now be reported online at 105.police.govt.nz

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website