Police have arrested several protesters who tried to block part of the main road to Auckland Airport this evening, as the land dispute at Ihumātao continues tonight.
About 300 demonstrators remain at the scene of the dispute this evening, after a three-day stand-off.
While police said they were pleased with the behaviour of protesters at Ihumātao today, several arrests were made early this evening.
Shortly before 6pm, a protester chained themselves to a van on George Bolt Memorial Drive (SH 20A) near Auckland Airport. Several others linked arms to block the northbound lanes.
Police soon cleared the protesters from the road and three men and four women, aged between 20 and 26 years old, are now in custody.
A group, Organise Aotearoa, which describes itself as a "new socialist movement in Aotearoa", tweeted that it had organised the protest.
The police have conducted a mass arrest of Organise Aotearoa members today while they blockaded the motorway outside of Ihumātao. Kaitiakitanga is not a crime! #protectihumātao pic.twitter.com/Qcx9Cokm8d— Organise Aotearoa: For Liberation and Socialism (@OrgAotearoa) July 25, 2019
But Superintendent Jill Rogers said blocking the motorway was "totally unacceptable".
"The reckless behaviour displayed by these individuals put their own safety in extreme danger.
"The road is a very busy highway and their actions also created a serious risk to other motorists, as well as police.
"Police will not tolerate any protest action that jeopardises people's safety, especially innocent members of the public who should be able to go about their daily business.
Police officers will remain at Ihumātao overnight.
Meanwhile, Kiwi singer Stan Walker is to play tonight for the people still gathered at the site.
Organisers have just gathered for their nightly discussion on the day's events. Before that, they thanked everyone who had gathered at the site and reminded followers that it was a peaceful gathering.
A jovial crowd has been singing and talking as the evening set in.
Busloads of supporters expected from across country
Earlier today, Joe Hawke, who led the occupation at Bastion Point, arrived at the protest in South Auckland to stand in solidarity. Amnesty International observers who also arrived this morning said there were reports of a scuffle but overall it was a peaceful protest.
On day three of the stand-off, the group leading the campaign, SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) spent much of the morning organising volunteers and preparing for the influx of people.
It said a bus from Wellington left late last night, and more people were expected from Ōpōtiki.
People who arrived yesterday from Hokianga also said they had put the call out to their whanau in Northland, who would arrive in a couple of busloads in the coming days.
The group had set up a make-shift entrance point and asked people to sign in when they arrived at Ihumātao.
A team of three from Amnesty International arrived at 8.30am, including executive director Meg de Ronde.
Ms de Ronde said they had come to independently observe the protest and to make sure people's rights were protected.
She said there were reports of a minor scuffle early this morning and that this would be looked at.
"So we're just trying to get some verification around what occurred there but overall it seems to have been peaceful."
People in the field, tents in the field, police in the field pic.twitter.com/ZchSWgQUGE— Meg de Ronde (@MegdeRonde) July 24, 2019
Ms de Ronde said they would be there for the rest of today. "Our intention is to be here till around 4pm today, and then we'll reassess how we can be involved going forward and whether we're still needed," she said.
At least 300 people are at the site, with groups taking turns to stand at the frontline, while some perform in front of the police.
One of the leaders of the campaign against the housing development, Pania Newton, told the crowd the intention was to remain peaceful.
"Our kaupapa is peaceful and passive. Swearwords, they're not our language. We want to fight hate with aroha."
Also present at Ihumātao is Joe Hawke who led the occupation at Bastion Point.
On Tuesday, those occupying the land were served an eviction notice which led to a stand-off between police and protesters. About six people were arrested for passing police cordons or causing disruptions.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson who has been vocal about stopping the "continuation of colonisation" joined protesters at Parliament yesterday.
Ms Davidson told Morning Report the government had a role to play and it couldn't ignore the issue just because there were differing views among Māori.
"The original injustice which is the confiscated and stolen land is pitting whānau against whānau and hapū against hapū. The Greens have always said we can't wash our hands off that, as the Crown, at the very least there needs to be some direct engagement," she said.
"I'm really concerned about the police presence on Ihumātao but the government can play a role here to intervene. People are determined, this issue is not going to go away."
The #MāoriAffairs Committee has released its final report on the Petition of Pania Newton for the Save our Unique Landscape campaign: #ProtectIhumātao, recommending that the House take careful note of the petitioners’ concerns.— NZ Parliament (@NZParliament) July 24, 2019
Read the full report: https://t.co/kSWXTeOHdB #nzpol