‘Safer communities … together’? Plural policing and COVID-19 public health interventions in Aotearoa New Zealand

Antje Deckert, Nicholas J. Long, Pounamu Jade Aikman, Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Sharyn Graham Davies, Susanna Trnka, Edmond Fehoko, Eleanor Holroyd, Naseem Jivraj, Megan Laws, Martin-Anatias Nelly Martin-Anatias, Reegan Pukepuke, Michael Roguski, Nikita Simpson, Rogena Sterling, Laumua Tunufa’i

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


International media have praised Aotearoa New Zealand for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. While New Zealand Police played a fundamental role in enforcing pandemic control measures, the policing landscape remained plural. This article employs Loader [2000. Plural policing and democratic governance. Social and legal studies, 9 (3), 323–345] model of plural policing to understand responses to public health emergencies. It identifies two forms of policing which were evident in Aotearoa during the COVID-19 lockdown that should be added to Loader’s model. First, we argue that contexts with colonial history require that the model not only includes by-government and below-government policing but also next-to-government policing by Indigenous peoples–such as the ‘community checkpoints’ run by Māori. Second, and further developing Loader’s model, we argue that the category of below-government policing be expanded to include ‘peer-to-peer policing’ in which government responsibilizes members of the public to subject each other to large-scale surveillance and social control. Since plural forms of policing affect each other’s functionality and legitimacy, we argue that what happens at the synapses between policing nodes has profound implications for the process of community building. Because community building is essential to fighting pandemics, we conclude that the policing of pandemic intervention measures may require an expanded understanding and practice of plural policing to support an optimal public health strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-637
Number of pages17
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Indigenous rights
  • next-to-government policing
  • plural policing


Dive into the research topics of '‘Safer communities … together’? Plural policing and COVID-19 public health interventions in Aotearoa New Zealand'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this