Claims all community roadblocks have a police officer present collapsed less than a day after being made with police headquarters now admitting there was no officer at a roadblock on State Highway 1 where motorists were being refused onward travel.
Police had initially claimed the officer was there but have now admitted he was absent for 70 minutes.
The incident unfolded less than 24 hours after new police commissioner Andy Coster told Parliament's epidemic response committee checkpoints now had a police presence "so that they are lawful".
He also said that motorists ability to travel on state highways was not being interfered with.
That was on Thursday.
The next morning, an NZME journalist travelling on State Highway 1 north of Houhora in the Far North encountered a roadblock without a police officer. After presenting paperwork showing media were an essential service, those at the roadblock refused to allow onward travel. NZME owns the NZ Herald, NewstalkZB and other media outlets across the country.
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Police apologised for travel being halted - which occurred after the police officer emerged - but went on to claim he had been there the whole time.
The claims were made even though the journalist who was stopped had seen the police officer's vehicle parked up at a farm further down State Highway 1.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said there was "an officer present at the checkpoint the entire time ensuring things ran smoothly but possibly out of … eyesight at the beginning".
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The NZ Herald sought through the Official Information Act details of the officer's movements - tracked through his work cellphone - and any GPS tracking that had been captured by his police vehicle.
Just hours later, police headquarters sent a fresh statement which stated the officer was not there because he was at another job.
Instead of being attributed to Hill, the new statement was to be attributed to a "police spokesperson".
It said the officer had been rostered to be at the roadblock for the entire day and had started there about 7.20am.
At 8.30am, he and another officer were called to a mental health emergency about 10 minutes drive away.
"He drove down the road and waited to speak with the mental health worker whilst the other officer went to the address. After speaking with the social worker he then headed back toward the checkpoint, stopped to take a phone call and then arrived back at the checkpoint where you were, at approx 9.40am.
"The officer was away from the checkpoint for approximately one hour (and) 10 minutes."
Bridges said today that it was "not good enough". He said Coster was not due back at the committee next week and further questioning would depending on developments in managing the outbreak.
He earlier said the commissioner had assured the committee there would be a police presence at every checkpoint and "that's not the case".
"While iwi might have good intentions, for me it starts and stops with the fact this is unlawful and the police commissioner should be taking the law more seriously."
Bridges said he was concerned because NZME's experience raised questions about the evidence given by Coster.
"I think the commissioner has misled the committee and has disregarded the law. That's not good for a commissioner in his first month on the job."
In the instance to which Bridges was alerted, a local couple attempting to access Rarawa Beach were told they were not able to travel north on SH1.
The roadblock was put up by Ngati Kuri, whose rohe covers the northernmost tip of the North Island and includes the Kermadec Islands and Three Kings Islands.
It was set up by the iwi to protect its communities from the virus and has seen it tell whanau caught outside the area before lockdown that they will also not be allowed access.
Ngati Kuri have reported this morning that the roadblock is to be moved a short distance north on State Highway 1 so as to avoid obstructing access to Rarawa Beach, which is popular with those living at nearby Pukenui. The iwi has asked people not to take dogs to the beach.
The iwi has two other checkpoints operating, shutting off access to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) and the village of Te Hapua, which is among New Zealand's most remote settlements.