Covid-19: NZ protesters camped at Parliament warned over trespass

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More than 50 police form a ring around the front of New Zealand's Parliament
More than 50 police form a ring around the front of New Zealand's Parliament to keep out protesters today. Image: RNZ screenshot APR

RNZ News

More than 50 police have formed a ring around the front of New Zealand’s Parliament today edging up to a line of protesters who have linked arms lining up in front of the Cenotaph.

One person speaking said he would walk up the Parliament steps at 3pm and get arrested, inviting others in the crowd to join, saying “see you at 3pm” to cheers from the crowd.

The group is part of a convoy which travelled to the capital Wellington yesterday to protest against covid-19 vaccine mandates.

Steel barriers have been put up in front of the protesters.

The crowd was still largely peaceful but some were heckling police and the temperature was starting to rise.

Protesters who spent the night camped on Parliament grounds have been warned they could be issued with a trespass notice.

About 1000 people and hundreds of vehicle converged on Parliament grounds yesterday, and at least 100 people camped overnight.

Trucks and other vehicles are blocking Molesworth Street.

Police issued a statement late last night saying they were monitoring the situation and were talking with the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard.


The protest scene today outside Parliament. Video: RNZ News

 

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

Protesters have been given a letter from the Speaker setting out Parliament’s rules, which prohibit staying overnight on the grounds and ban tents or other structures.

Specific policies mentioned in the letter include leaving the grounds in an orderly manner and not interfering with traffic.

“Participants must assemble within and disperse from the grounds in an orderly manner, and so as to not interfere with the flow of vehicular traffic.”

Police forming a ring around the front of Parliament.
Police forming a ring around the front of Parliament today. Image: Jane Patterson/RNZ

It also mentions that tents and structures are banned from the grounds.

“No erection of tents or any structure is permitted other than hand held signs … structures including tents as mentioned above are not permitted and if not removed when requested, are liable for confiscation.”

Protesters outside Parliament.
Protesters outside Parliament. Image: Jane Patterson/RNZ

It said if the rules were breached people could be trespassed and their equipment confiscated.

“In line with these existing policies, please disassemble any tents or structures and remove them from the grounds. Do not continue protests or demonstrations on the grounds after dark. The breach of the above policies and failure to carry out the actions may result in trespass notices being issued.”

A truck and vans from the convoy covered protest messages.
A truck and vans from the convoy covered in protest messages. Image: Hamish Cardwell/RNZ

There are also campervans parked in nearby streets and the police say Molesworth Street in front of Parliament is not accessible to traffic, and drivers should avoid the area this morning.

It is not clear how long the protesters will be allowed to stay.

Tents set up in the grounds of the law school over the road from Parliament.
Tents set up in the grounds of the law school over the road from Parliament. Image: Hamish Cardwell/RNZ

Wellington City Council is talking with police about their options to deal with cars illegally blocking the roads and footpath near Parliament.

Council spokesperson Richard MacLean said if cars were to be removed there would be resources needed.

He said the council wants to avoid confrontation but are planning for if it were to arise.

Motorists are still being advised to avoid the area if possible.

The scene from the front lawn of Parliament. The media are no longer allowed on the grounds.
The scene from the front lawn of Parliament. The media are no longer allowed on the grounds. Image: Hamish Cardwell/RNZ

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

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