A copy of the original document sent to a New Zealand school principal. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GEORGE SHIERS
george.shiers@age.co.nz

A self-proclaimed sheriff movement that began in Eketahuna continues to recruit members and increase activity.

Police have confirmed they are investigating alleged threats of arrest by the group sent to New Zealand schools.

In March this year, people in the lower North Island allegedly threatened Justices of the Peace [JPs] to sign documents appointing them as ‘sheriffs’, the first of which were stamped by an Eketahuna JP.

The Times-Age understands a group identifying as sheriffs allegedly attempted an ‘arrest’ at the home of Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis.

Last week, the group identifying itself as AU AO Pacific Alliance Sheriffs sent an email to schools, threatening principals with arrest if they “go ahead with any vaccinations or further lockdowns or masks for children”.

The attached decrees threatened that the arrests and prosecutions would be carried out under the Sheriffs Act 1887.

The documents were signed by four Manawatu Tararua County Sheriffs and included thumb prints pressed in red ink.

The email was sent to 229 New Zealand schools.

New Zealand Police director of national intelligence Dan Wildy said the sheriff groups could be classified as sovereign citizens

Sovereign citizens include people who claim to be answerable to common law only, rather than government proceedings, and only by their consent.

He said police’s National Intelligence Centre was aware of the sheriff and other sovereign citizens-based movements, some of which drew inspiration and influence from related groups overseas.

“We previously contacted the Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices Associations to share awareness of concerning attempts made by some groups to have documents of questionable origin certified by JPs.”

Wildy said extremist groups would be investigated and all threats made by such groups were taken seriously.

“While we are not concerned with lawful protest and dissenting viewpoints in a healthy democracy, any indications of potential violence stemming from extreme viewpoints are of interest and are assessed for potential to present as real-world threats.

“Anyone who comes across material of concern or is uncertain as to whether something is threatening, is encouraged to report their concerns to police,” Wildy said.

Sheriffs listed on the decrees did not respond to request for comment.



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