Warning: Video images in this story may be distressing to some viewers.
A development business that contracted a security firm to protect its Waiheke Island project has responded to this week’s escalation of violence, including a filmed face-kicking event.
Kitt Littlejohn, a director of Kennedy Point Boatharbour which is building the island’s first marina, said the video only showed part of an event.
“The video footage shows a small segment of a confrontation that took place between protesters who were trespassing and the company’s security personnel. It is not an accurate representation of the full incident,” Littlejohn said.
Yesterday, the Herald reported Wednesday’s events showing a protester on a pontoon manhandled into the water by a man wearing a high-vis jacket.
In March, work started on the 186-berth marina at Pūtiki Bay.
The developer rejects those claims.
Littlejohn said today: “The company has always respected the rights of people to peacefully protest, however, this protest is no longer being conducted in a peaceful manner, with significant offending aimed at the company’s personnel and property now occurring on-site in what has become an unnecessarily confrontational situation. This has got to stop before someone gets seriously hurt.”
Kennedy Point Boatharbour did not condone unprovoked violence.
“The construction crew and site security staff are simply trying to do their jobs to protect the construction area from trespassers in line with a legal consent to build. They have a right to go to work without being verbally or physically abused,” Littlejohn said.
But protester Emily Weiss today released a new video saying all works at the site would now stop till Monday.
She is appealing for more people to come, to bring cell phone chargers, protest signs and waterproof containers and says two prominent politicians will visit them on the weekend.
Weiss filmed that from a pontoon at the bay where protesters have erected tents and said the occupation had now moved from the moana to the pontoon when work stopped.
Littlejohn said: “Protesters are choosing to ignore the clearly marked construction zone and trespass into an area where there are multiple dangerous hazards and construction works are taking place, putting their lives and the lives of others in danger in an effort to frustrate construction work.
“Despite this sort of coverage, the company continues to receive messages of support from all over the country. We are also hearing from people who were previously opposed to the Marina but who have accepted the legal right to build and are appalled by protesters recent behaviour.”
One protester at the development site yesterday said the behaviour was dangerous.
“I mean, when you boot someone in the head that’s not reasonable force. When you use a hook and a paddle on people, that’s not reasonable force.”
Tensions have escalated at the Pūtiki Point site in scuffles between occupiers and people in hard hats and high-vis jackets over recent weeks.
This week’s violence comes after a previous incident filmed last week, where people in hard hats and high-vis jackets rammed a boat into protesters who were sandwiched between large black buoys surrounding the construction zone.
That left one protester with neck, chest and wrist injuries.
Both incidents were live-streamed on Facebook.
Littlejohn said his company would meet with its security consultant and their staff to thoroughly investigate the incidents that occurred which also included “multiple assaults” on security personnel.
“We are also assisting the police with their inquiries about these incidents, along with several other incidents including vandalism and threats to our construction crew,” Littlejohn said today.
“The company’s priority continues to be the safety of members of the public, its construction crew and the protesters.”
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