'Unprecedented' for NZ - police respond to Parliament protest

Source: 1News

1News live updates have concluded for Thursday. Read below for a full update of the protest at Parliament as it unfolded.

Protesters face a wall of police officers on February 10, day three of their protest outside Parliament.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

- Anti-vaccine mandate protest action at Parliament entered its third day.

- Police arrested at least 120 people on Thursday.

- Two police officers have been hurt.

- All protesters at Parliament have now been trespassed, though police suspect they may not all leave right away.

- There have been 150 extra police brought in, on top of the 900 staff in Wellington.

- More police resources are on their way to Parliament.

- Police will maintain a presence overnight.

6.20pm: The crowd has reduced to about 200 people. Police have also scaled down their presence but are committed to bringing in more resources.

615pm: Police issued several hundred parking tickets on Thursday, and most slapped with the fine say they refuse to pay.

Mayor Andy Foster came out to speak to businesses affected by the traffic blockade, but he was soon surrounded by protesters. He told them the protest felt "intimidating".

5.45pm: Police have been thanked by a speaker for standing by with "grace, mana and integrity".

5.30pm: Police have issued a statement saying the 120 people arrested on Thursday face charges, including trespass and obstruction, and will be bailed to appear in court.

Parliament grounds were officially closed this morning however a number of protesters are still refusing repeated requests to leave the precinct.

"While many are protesting peacefully, others have attempted to breach the Police cordon.

"Police have twice deployed OC (mace) spray after officers were pulled into the crowd, they were not seriously injured however such behaviour is unacceptable.

"Anyone threatening the safety of Police staff or the public should expect to face enforcement action," police say.

Police are again urging anyone with a vehicle unlawfully blocking the streets around Parliament to remove it immediately.

Officers are assisting Wellington City Council parking wardens as they begin to issue infringement notices, and police will now look to have the vehicles removed.

Police will continue to have a presence at Parliament into the night and as long as necessary to ensure public safety.

5.12pm: The protest is showing no signs of settling down. Music is playing, and the crowd is mingling and dancing.

5.05pm: The microphone has again been taken, this time by a man thanking the crowd for "staying strong for so long".

4.35pm: Superintendent Parnell says one of the priorities is "deconstructing" the tent sites that have built up over the protest. He says police are "well aware" of protesters' intentions and the speeches that occur around 11am daily and the disruption activity from the protesters.

He says additional resources will address this in the coming day.

4.23pm: Parnell says police are used to doing "mass arrests" and Corrections officers have also been deployed to assist.

There have been 150 extra police brought in on top of the 900 staff in Wellington, he says.

Parnell says the protest is "unprecedented" for New Zealand.

"We haven't lost control," Parnell says.

"It was always going to be a tall order. We have never had an occupation of this scale and certainly with tents on Parliament grounds, so to come degree unchartered waters."

He could not give an end date on the protest but says he would "bolster" his resources and his intention is that "it would not be here for another week".

4.15pm: Parnell says 150 additional police resources arrived on Thursday to deal with protesters, that's in addition to the 900 already there.

He says if vehicles were not moved, a "more assertive approach" would be needed. He says initial "good lines of communication" had waned as the protest continued.

He says two staff had been hurt and are currently recovering. One officer was sprayed with mace or OC spray which was meant for the crowd, but affected that officer. The officer has been treated and is back on site. The other officer suffered a minor graze while arresting a protester.

4.04pm: Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell is addressing media and says 120 arrests have taken place on Thursday.

He says the protest has placed "additional pressures" on police staff in terms of operating in a Covid environment, working with masks and unhelpful rainy weather conditions.

He says additional police resources will travel to Wellington from around the country over the next day and coming days. He says police are well-advanced in removing vehicles that have blocked traffic and streets. He says many businesses have closed due to the protest.

Some protesters also had weapons. "In the form of the placard poles, sticks, in one case we saw the presence of a knuckle duster," Parnell says.

3.50pm: The national anthem has just been played again and the crowd is now chanting "freedom" while a woman has taken the microphone saying "Parliament land is our land".

3pm: In an area away from the police-protest stand off, protesters called in medics to help someone near Parliament's playground. The protesters clapped as the medics and a couple of police officers entered. Other police followed, and were initially met by resistance, before protesters let them through to surround the person in need of help.

2.43pm: Protesters are yelling, 'hold that line' while it begins to rain in Wellington.

2.35pm: A police officer has been assisted by colleagues after being injured during the protest, which numbers a few hundred now.

2.14pm: Protesters can be seen being loaded into vans and a truck as police remove them from Parliament grounds. None of the protesters made a fuss as they were led to the vehicles.

1.50pm: A small group of protesters have split off from the main action and have gathered around where the tents were being removed. More officers have been brought in to help.

1.45pm: The female protester was helped to her feet by the paramedic and a police officer and has been led away out of shot of cameras.

The singing of the national anthem has resumed and protesters pushing against the police wall seems to have stopped, at least for now.

1.42pm: One of three protesters just led away by police is being seen by a paramedic. She is on the ground and looks to have collapsed.

1.38pm: Tensions have ramped up again very quickly following police removing some tents. Protesters can once again be seen pushing against the wall of police.

1.36pm: It appears police are removing tents that are away from the main protest action. Shouts of "Shame on you!" could be heard.

1.33pm: One of the protesters has picked up a microphone and has been singing. He just finished up Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

The national anthem is now being sung, while a bus horn is being sounded.

Other vehicles appear to be joining in and people are clapping and whistling.

A drum is still being played, along with cymbals.

Some police officers looked to have ditched their hats outside Parliament to deal with ongoing protest action on February 10.

12.35pm: Police have arrested more than 50 people at Parliament, Wellington District Commander Corrie Parnell says.

They face charges including trespass and obstruction and will be bailed to appear in court.

Parnell says they will also be formally served trespass notices from Parliament grounds.

"Police continue to appeal to protesters to leave Parliament grounds peacefully, as the area is closed to the public," he says in a statement.

"It is disappointing that despite the grounds being officially closed to the public earlier today, a number of protesters are refusing repeated requests to leave the precinct.

"Police continue to take a measured approach, exercising their powers fairly and proportionately.

"We continue to acknowledge people’s rights to protest, however those who behave unlawfully will face arrest."

Parnell also says owners or drivers of vehicles unlawfully blocking streets around Parliament would face enforcement action if they were not removed immediately.

"Wellingtonians have the right to conduct their lives and go about their business without the interference of ongoing unlawful activity," he says.

"Additional resources will be deployed from around the country as long as is necessary to ensure public safety."

Police surround protesters outside Parliament on February 10.

12pm: The Wellington Chamber of Commerce said this morning it is time for the protest’s disruption to businesses to end.

"This is having a serious impact for businesses around the Parliament and across Wellington — additional pressure especially for our many hospitality and retail businesses, who are already making tough decisions facing a downturn at the Red traffic light level, with this adding to further lost revenue and unrecoverable costs.

"People are staying away from the CBD due to the protests, businesses are having to close for safety, and we’ve seen people being stopped from getting onto public transport to get home safely,” its CEO Simon Arcus says in a statement.

"The protesters absolutely have the right to protest — as an advocacy organisation ourselves we appreciate vocal participation in the democratic debate. But they call it peaceful and instead bully business owners and their staff.

"The protesters' message has been made. There’s a growing risk this becomes an ongoing idle protest getting in the way of others who need to make a living.

"The privilege of peaceful protest in a county that’s pulled together through restrictions and lockdowns, is an irony lost on the demonstrators who are inflicting further economic damage to the city.”

11.45am: The office of Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has confirmed wardens will be heading out soon to start ticketing illegally parked vehicles.

11.35am: Just before 11.30am another scuffle broke out outside Parliament behind a man holding a sign about natural immunity. Protesters were moved a few steps back into their makeshift camp in the process.

Kia Kaha was being chanted in the moments before the scuffle.

11.18am: Speaking a little earlier from Auckland, the Prime Minister says: "Yes, it is" to a question on whether it is time for the protesters to move on.

"Obviously every New Zealander has a right to protest, but there are also rules around what is able to happen on Parliament's forecourt and of course we would expect that people have behaviours that don't disrupt the ability of others to go on with their lives as well," Jacinda Ardern says.

"I think the majority of New Zealanders share a very similar sentiment — we want to keep one another safe. We want to be able to live our lives. We want to have the ability to do as much that we we're able to do before Covid as possible. That is the path we're on, but we all need to stick together."

Ardern says she isn't concerned tensions were rising outside Parliament, but says police were endeavouring to put a stop to the ongoing disruption the protesters were causing in Wellington.

"I've been in Parliament for over a decade. I've seen a number of protests in my time, different sizes. This is certainly not the largest I've seen and I've certainly seen a lot of emotion in those protests.

"But I'm still reminded that relative to the people that are at Parliament now, the very day that they’re there, tens of thousands of people went out and got vaccinated. It is not reflective of where the rest of New Zealand is at right now."

10.30am: A handful of MPs and list MPs have taken to Twitter to mainly thank police officers for their work at Parliament this morning.

They include Labour list MPs Naisi Chen and Marja Lubeck, along with MP Sarah Pallett.

National's Chris Penk also summed up what has been happening outside Parliament over the last three days.

10.15am: The sun has come out in Wellington and is beating down on Parliament.

A police officer has been seen running around handing out sunblock to other officers and protesters.

A man could also be seen carrying around a box of apples for protesters.

People have been singing the national anthem and waiata Te aroha.

A protester takes a moment to eat an apple while facing the police wall on February 10.

9.52am: Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell says all protesters at Parliament have been trespassed.

This is due to the fact Speaker Trevor Mallard closed the grounds.

Protesters are being "evicted from the precinct", Parnell says.

"While police acknowledges people’s right to protest, this needs to be conducted in a way that do not unfairly impact on the wider public.

"More than 100 additional police staff have been called in, including from other districts, to support the operation.

"The public should continue to expect traffic delays and are asked to avoid the area, if possible."

A horn is repeatedly being sounded outside Parliament.

9.45am: Another scuffle just broke out on the right, with protesters pushing police back. A bottle of water was sprayed in some of the officer's faces.

Some of the protesters at the front are now sitting down.

9.42am: A protester is being carried away by three police officers. There was one officer on each arm and one holding the man's legs.

9.40am: Tensions are ramping up again, with a scuffle briefly breaking out on one side.

9.35am: Police are increasing numbers on their side, with no arrests having taken place in the last five minutes.

9.33am: "One by one you're going to be arrested," a police officer warned on the loudspeaker.

There are people in their tents, dogs walking around and a man lying on the concrete on the police side in protest.

"We are doing nothing wrong," a protester says over their loud speaker.

9.30am: Tensions seemed to have eased somewhat at Parliament. Police officers are no longer being punched, kicked or have had water thrown at them. Drums and singing can be heard.

9.20am: Police are asking people to move back, while a steady stream of protesters are being taken away by oficers one by one.

Protesters are right up against the police line.

There is some pushing now and again against officers in the line and music can be heard in the background.

9.15am: Paramedics a short while ago could be seen tending to a protester pulled from the crowd.

9.10am: A heavy police presence can be seen outside Parliament on Thursday as anti-vaccine mandate protesters face off with officers for a second time, after a standoff on Wednesday.

About 100 protesters are right up against the police line, which is about three officers deep.

Police are taking protesters away. The crowd are yelling and screaming as more and more are led from the scene.

Speaker Trevor Mallard has authorised protesters be taken off Parliament's grounds.

Police have reportedly told protesters to take down their tents and leave or be arrested. Police are using a loud speaker to communicate with the protesters.

The protesters camped for a second night outside Parliament.

They remain despite things turning sour on Wednesday, with arrests made after some of them allegedly attempted to push past a line of officers and enter Parliament.

The three people have been charged with obstruction and have been trespassed from Parliament grounds and are due to appear in the Wellington District Court on Monday.