By RNZ News
A ragtag group of about 150 people gathered on the New Zealand Parliament’s forecourt today to demand an end to covid-19 lockdowns.
The so-called freedom rally – led by political firebrand Billy Te Kahika – kicked off shortly after 1pm and lasted about an hour.
Members of the group wielded banners and placards describing the coronavirus as a scam and decrying vaccines and lockdown measures, echoing online conspiracy theories.
Others waved pro-Trump flags or signs protesting anything from 1080 pest control to fluoride to the Chinese Communist Party.
Te Kahika told the crowd they stood together against the “gang of corruption” that exists at Parliament.
“We are here as many different ethnicities. We are here as people with different ideals, different persuasions,” he said.
“But we stand united for one purpose: to defend our right to choose for ourselves and our families, our whānau, how we will live.”
Covid-19 likened to winter flu
Te Kahika continued his practice of spreading misinformation in his speech, including that covid-19 is no more fatal than the winter flu.
Covid-19 has so far claimed the lives of almost 2 million people worldwide.
Te Kahika also praised the Covid-19 Plan B group, which argues against lockdowns, despite the measure helping successfully eliminate the coronavirus in New Zealand’s community.
New Zealand spent nearly five weeks under a strict level four lockdown measure last year and then about two weeks more under level three.
Auckland returned to level three in August for two and a half weeks after the virus briefly re-emerged in the community.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.