Almost 30 community leaders of New Zealand’s capital Wellington have banded together to urge an immediate end of the illegal protest activities at Parliament.
Among those who have signed the joint statement are the region’s mayors, MPs, principals and business leaders.
The letter says Wellingtonians and city workers have been “intimidated” by protesters, and some residents have reported being “too distressed and frightened to leave their homes”.
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A number of businesses have had to close to protect staff.
The community leaders say the people of Wellington have had enough of this illegal anti-mandates activity and it is time for the harassment and disruption to end.
Record 1929 new community cases
The Ministry of Health today reported a record 1929 new community cases of covid-19 in New Zealand.
In a statement, the ministry said 1384 of the new cases were in the Auckland district health boards (DHBs), with the remaining cases in Northland (13), Waikato (155), Bay of Plenty (58), Lakes (9), Hawke’s Bay (17), MidCentral (3), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (9), Tairāwhiti (8), Wairarapa (5), Capital and Coast (28), Hutt Valley (50), Nelson Marlborough (60), Canterbury (35), South Canterbury (7) and Southern (77).
There are 73 people in hospital with the coronavirus, with one in ICU. Seven of the cases are in Waikato Hospital, with others in Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wellington, Tairawhiti and MidCentral hospitals.
The previous record of 1573 new community cases was reported yesterday, 1140 of them in Auckland.
There were also 18 cases reported at the border today.
There have now been 26,544 cases of covid-19 in New Zealand since the pandemic began.
‘Resolution opportunity’ passed over
Meanwhile, former New Conservative leader Leighton Baker said politicians had had an opportunity to resolve the Parliament protest eight days ago.
“They never did anything and the longer they leave it, the bigger it gets. The responsibility is on their shoulders to talk to the people.
“You’ve got to talk to the people. The ball’s in their court.”
Baker describes himself as an “intermediary” — not a protest leader.
As the protest continues, Wellington transport operator Metlink is receiving more reports of people not wearing masks on its trains and busses.
It said its frontline workers were not expected to risk their own health and safety by enforcing mask wearing.
Wellington City Council has increased security around the city after a spike in verbal abuse and aggression against members of the public.
Increasing incidents of aggression
The council said retail workers had reported increasing incidents of maskless customers and of people becoming aggressive when asked to put a mask on.
Close to the protest site, the owner of a cafe and catering business on Molesworth Street says patronage is well below normal because customers can not park nearby and cafe regulars are all working from home.
The Word of Mouth Cafe and Catering owner said while it had remained open since the protest began, staff were working reduced hours and some had taken leave because there was no work for them to do.
No-one had been rude and tried to enter without a mask or vaccine passport, but the presence of protesters was greatly affecting her customer base, the owner said.
Suppliers were also reluctant to come in, with some who used to come every day now reducing that to every second or third day.
The full letter:
“We the undersigned ask that the current illegal protest activities in and around the Parliament precinct end immediately. There is a right to peaceful protest in New Zealand that it is important to uphold. However, this protest has gone well beyond that point.
“Those who live, work and go to school and university have been subjected to significant levels of abuse and harassment when attempting to move about in the area. There has been intimidation to Wellingtonians and city workers, and some residents have reported being too frightened or distressed to leave their homes.
“The vehicles associated with the protest are illegally blocking roads that are preventing Wellingtonians moving freely, including using public transport, posing a risk to the movement of emergency services, and are severely disrupting businesses. A number of businesses have had to close to protect their staff, while for others customers cannot access these businesses. The [Victoria] University has needed to close its Pipitea campus, disrupting teaching and learning.
“Police have issued trespass notices for those on Parliamentary and university grounds. We remind the protesters this city and these streets are those of Wellingtonians who have the right to access them freely and without fear.
“The people of Wellington have had enough of this illegal activity, harassment and disruption, we ask that it end immediately.”
Alex Beijen — South Wairarapa Mayor
Andy Foster — Wellington City Mayor
Anita Baker — Porirua City Mayor
Barbara McKerrow — Wellington City Council CEO
Bernadette Murfitt — Principal Sacred Heart School Thorndon
Campbell Barry — Hutt City Mayor
Daran Ponter — on behalf of Metlink
Fleur Fitzsimons — Wellington City Councillor
Grant Guildford — Vice-Chancellor, Victoria University of Wellington
Grant Robertson — MP for Wellington Central [and deputy Prime Minister]
Greg Lang — Carterton District Mayor
James Shaw — Green List MP based in Wellington
Jenny Condie — Wellington City Councillor
John Allen — CEO Wellington NZ
Julia Davidson — Principal, Wellington Girls College
K. Gurunathan — Kapiti District Mayor
Kerry Davies — Secretary of the Public Service Association
Laurie Foon — Wellington City Councillor
Lyn Patterson — Masterton District Mayor
Murray Edridge — Wellington City Missioner
Nicola Young — Wellington City Councillor
Paul Retimanu — director of Manaaki Management and president of Hospitality Wellington, New Zealand
Rebecca Matthews — Wellington City Councillor
Sarah Free — Wellington City Deputy Mayor
Simon Arcus — Wellington Chamber of Commerce CEO
Tamatha Paul — Wellington City Councillor
Teri O’Neill — Wellington City Councillor
Wayne Guppy — Upper Hutt City Mayor
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.