Jacinda Ardern says Parliament protest 'feels imported'

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has dubbed the protest on Parliament's grounds as "imported".

Jacinda Ardern.

Now in its seventh day, the Convoy 2022 protest was inspired by a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions in Canada which has seen demonstrators encamped in Ottawa since late January.

Ardern told Breakfast the protest outside Parliament "feels imported to me".

"I’ve seen Trump flags on the forecourt, I’ve seen Canadian flags on the forecourt," she said.

READ MORE: Protests: Police to have ‘highly visible’ presence in capital

"I think the moment that you start tipping from protesting to the Government, and you start hurling abuse at people who are wearing masks or throwing things at people who are on their way to work or even harassing kids on their way to school, you have tipped well beyond a protest to a space of harassment and that is not acceptable.

"It is not OK and it’s not the way we protest in New Zealand."

The protest at Parliament seems to have begun as a stand against vaccine mandates but now includes disparate groups — people have also been protesting the Bill of Rights, censorship, Three Waters and 1080.

Wednesday and Thursday last week saw some protesters clash with police and hurl abuse at passersby and members of the media and MPs.

More than 100 people were arrested last week.

However, into and over the weekend, the weather, Parliament's sprinklers and music played over loudspeakers failed to deter protesters from their makeshift camp.

Songs from Celine Dion, Barry Manilow and James Blunt saw protesters break out in dance instead.

Police have said they are concerned about the number of children at Parliament's grounds due to sanitation issues and Covid-19.

Ardern shares similar concerns.

"The other thing I find really hard is seeing children out there for days on end. That’s not OK either," she told Breakfast.

Despite the current atmosphere at the protest, the prime minister said the group did not want to engage.

"The point that I would make here is that yes they've talked about mandates, but I've heard a lot of misinformation and anti-vax messaging messaging coming from the forecourt ... I've seen horrific things said to media."

Day 7 of anti-mandate protest in Wellington.

Ardern said fixing the anger came back to disinformation.

"This is an issue that the globe is grappling with and we do need to grapple with because seeing people so enraged by stuff that simply aren’t true is worrisome and is something that we’re all going to have to confront," she said.

"Right now though obviously a big focus for us is seeing New Zealand through the pandemic, seeing us safely through. Some of these longer term issues we are going to have to grapple with in the future.

"When it comes to restrictions, you’ll see that when we can step away from them we will. We don’t use lockdowns anymore, we’re opening up our borders, and there will be a time when we don’t use vaccine passes and we don’t have requirements to be vaccinated," Ardern said.

"But right now these are the things that are keeping us safe when we’re hitting a growing pandemic and so now is not the time to be in space talking about why vaccinations are bad when they’re the very thing that has kept us well."