Brian Tamaki's anti-lockdown rally draws large Auckland crowd

Source: 1News

A large crowd has gathered at the Auckland Domain for an anti-lockdown protest, organised by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki. 

While some are wearing masks, many are not, with very little social distancing happening. 

1News reporters sighted gang members among those at the protest, as well as young families. 

Auckland went into Alert Level 4 lockdown on August 17 after an outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant. The city has since moved down to Level 3 where it currently sits. The rest of New Zealand have greater freedoms in Level 2.

Efforts to prevent the protest taking place fell flat earlier this week after Tamaki and protest organisers met with police in a virtual meeting held on Tuesday.

Tamaki told 1News today he didn't believe the rally would lead to Covid-19 infections.

"It was a super meeting and I don't think we are going to see that at all," he said.

"I think everybody loved it and it was a great day."

He said more people were affected by suicide caused by lockdowns than by Covid.

"I'm not going to feel guilty now about nothing that's happened," Tamaki said, adding he didn't think any Covid cases would emerge from the protest.

"If I can prevent another suicide happening or another family coming apart, and we are feeding, by the way thousands, then I think it's worth it. It's only a one-off occasion and I think it will be more helpful than it is not helpful," Tamaki said.

Auckland District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said there were around 20 officers in the area and the event was peaceful.

However, she said it did not meet Covid restriction guidelines for gatherings and they would be "considering the circumstances with a view to prosecution". 

At the 1pm Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she trusts police “to do their job” over compliance issues and judgement calls relating to the protest.

Ardern acknowledged that “no one wants lockdowns” – particularly those who regularly meet in a community setting, such as those who engage in spiritual worship or community playgroups.

“No one wants them separated for longer than needed to be” and that restrictions will be removed as soon as practicable." 

She said the Government is “desperate” to remove restrictions but it rested on people “doing the right thing”.

Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield said on Tuesday he has confidence in police to carry out their duties to mitigate risk and take an appropriate approach.

He said police had done this “repeatedly” over lockdown which has seen some planned protests not go ahead.