Police dramatically reduce presence at Ihumātao

2:49 pm on 16 August 2019

All the police cars and Fletcher Building contractor vehicles have left the front line at Ihumātao, leaving fewer than 10 officers.

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Police at Ihumātao last week. Photo: RNZ/ Dan Cook

It comes after last week's announcement by the Deputy Police Commissioner, Wally Haumaha, that police numbers would be reduced at the South Auckland site.

A SOUL spokesperson confirmed fewer than ten police officers remained at the site.

Talks between mana whenua, government ministers and the owner of the land, Fletcher Building, to find a resolution to the land dispute are ongoing.

In a statement, Superintendent Jill Rogers said police vehicles were removed because they were needed to carry out work in other areas.

"As police confirmed last week we have reduced our presence at Ihumātao but remain on-site to ensure the safety of everyone present.

"Our dialogue with protest organisers remains ongoing and we continue to assess our operational response as required."

Protester Amiria Puia-Taylor said the police vehicles had been a big concern so the last one being removed today was welcomed.

"It's a big visible shift for us and that's comforting for us and the whānau. Obviously there was a lot of conflict in the earlier stages. We all stepped into an unknown territory.

"Over the days a lot more of the policemen that were coming were starting to warm up to 'Oh, these guys are harmless'."

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