The Auckland Domain remained closed today to vehicles until further notice, because a small number of anti-covid protesters have set up tents there and stayed overnight.
They moved there after thousands of people crossed the harbour bridge on foot yesterday, in a march organised protest against New Zealand’s covid-19 public health measures.
The Ministry of Health reported a record 14,941 new community cases of covid-19 in New Zealand today, with 305 people now in hospital — five of them in intensive care.
Camping is not permitted in the Domain, which lies between the suburbs of Parnell and Grafton.
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Auckland Council director of customer and community services Claudia Wyss said it was working with event organisers on a safety-first approach.
She said there was no timeline for reopening at this stage and the council apologised for any inconvenience.
The campers include people who took part in the march over the Harbour Bridge, shutting down southbound traffic for an hour and a half.
The march was organised by Destiny Church’s Freedoms and Rights Coalition. Leaders had been in talks with the Auckland Council and police about their presence late on Saturday, and promised to leave the site by 9pm that night.
A protester in a video has claimed to have mana whenua status, and said they were occupying a pa site at the domain.
Auckland Council said it was continuing to work with police and to engage constructively with the group.
However, it has raised concerns the marchers and protesters risked spreading covid-19 by gathering.
In New Plymouth, about seven tents and about 30 people were at an anti-covid protest beside the Coastal Walkway on Sunday morning.
Fewer people at Wellington anti-covid protest
About 300 vehicles remain in the protest area inside cordons at Parliament grounds, however an RNZ reporter said some protesters appeared to be packing up this morning ready to leave.
Police are maintaining a perimeter at access routes to the area amid the sounds of reggae music and the occasional car horn. The protesters are waving flags and shouting the word “freedom”, to passing cars.
Protesters have been camping in tents and in vehicles parked in and around the protest area, which covers grounds belonging to Victoria University as well as parts of Molesworth and Hill streets.
Businesses, schools, the university and residents in the area have reported major disruption since it began on February 7.
About 200 new protesters turned up at the campsite on Saturday, but police said that was far fewer than on previous weekends.
RNZ estimates that by Sunday the number of protesters had halved from last weekend, when more than 1000 people took part.
A group called Farmers for Freedom told followers this morning via social media that a convoy it had organised would reach the protest today with a trailer of food.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.