NZ Parliament on high security as anti-vaxxer protesters gather

Te Hana anti-vaxxer protest
Protesters blocked the main northern border checkpoint on State Highway 1 today. Image: RNZ/Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Whātua

RNZ News

New Zealand’s Parliament was on high security today as thousands marched through the capital Wellington for an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protest.

Thousands of people gathered at Civic Square for an anti-lockdown and anti vaccination protest this morning.

The group intended to march to Parliament for what they are describing as a “freedom protest”.

Significant disruptions to the bus services in the capital were expected as buses detoured away from the central business distruct (CBD) to avoid the protest.

Protester ‘bites’ police officer
Meanwhile in Auckland, a police officer was bitten by a protester at the northern boundary as a group blocked traffic for more than an hour.

About 50 protesters arrived from the northern side of the boundary on State Highway 1 at Te Hana.

Traffic in both directions was brought to a halt by the group and some of their vehicles.

Police said they attempted to engage with the group and a number of vehicles were towed in order to clear the roadway.

Officers physically intervened to move protesters off the road and in the process one was bitten by an “as yet unidentified protester”, police said.

“Actions like this are totally avoidable and poses unnecessary risk to our staff who are simply trying do their part in preventing the spread of covid-19,” Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan said in a statement.

Protesters have dispersed and police will keep monitoring the site.

Protest ‘interferes with vaccination efforts’
Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Whātua uri and chief operating officer Antony Thompson said trucks carrying food and medical supplies were being held up unnecessarily, “creating major risks to our communities and whānau of the North”.

He said thoughtless moves like this put whānau in danger and urged members of these groups to think about the impact they were having on those they believed they were trying to protect.

Thompson said protesters were using this as an opportunity to “grandstand their issue”.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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