What do you want to know:
- The demonstration entered its 13th day, with more than 1,000 people, 800 vehicles and 750 tents on site
- Police Commissioner Andrew Coster argues de-escalation is the right approach
- The Parliamentary Service plans to build a fence enveloping the entire parliamentary complex
- A petition asking those not in Parliament to leave Parliament has now received over 72,000 signatures.
- Victoria University has closed the entire Pipitea campus following reports of staff and student abuse by protesters.
- National Māori Authority Executive Chairman Matthew Tukaki launched an online counter-protest
Police personnel have been instructed to adopt a zero tolerance approach to any abuse, intimidation or violence against members of the public. Anyone who abuses or bullies members of the public should expect to be arrested, fired and face charges.
A police statement released just before 6 p.m. on Sunday said patrols of local businesses had been increased, along with increased traffic management around the perimeter of the protest.
The occupation of the vaguely anti-vaccine mandate in Parliament began its 13th day in soggy conditions after a night of heavy rain in Wellington, but by mid-afternoon on Sunday protesters were dancing and singing in the sunshine.
Vehicles parked around Parliament rose to around 2,000 on Saturday, including around 800 parked illegally.
* 13th day of occupation: dancing and singing, as thousands continue to demonstrate
* The number of protesters’ vehicles near Parliament almost doubled in two days
* Parliament protest: New poll shows 30% of Kiwis support anti-mandate protest
Police seized a vehicle on Sunday after a complaint of burnout. On Saturday, a small number of vehicles were towed from Thorndon Quay, Featherston St and Bowen St, and police and council officers condemned some illegally parked vehicles.
The Sky Stadium, which was at capacity on Saturday afternoon, was half full today.
Police engagement with protest leaders was “positive” over the weekend, with safety and security being the agreed area of focus.
“In the medium term, we will continue to work to free up the networks and infrastructure of the surrounding areas to remove the burden felt by the public in Wellington, bringing the protest back into the parliamentary precincts, and ultimately within the legal confines of the protest. public. act, recognize it may take some time.
A press release from the ‘combined protest groups’ sent at 5.15pm on Sunday said: ‘We must at all costs avoid the situation in Parliament last week which saw 122 people arrested and many others injured.’
“Despite formally requesting a meeting over a week ago and then offering a highly qualified mediator five days ago, the government still refuses to engage with us,” it read.
While the protest had been “largely peaceful…it could also have gone the other way”.
“The mood of many very disgruntled protesters would improve considerably if the police agreed to drop all charges.”
There was an increased police presence for an hour at 3 p.m., with officers extending to the back of the hive, possibly in response to rumors of a human chain circling the area. But by 4.30pm many had moved out and the back of Parliament was back to normal.
There was a growing sense of permanence in the occupation, a reporter at the scene said; people were drilling holes in the bricks of the neighborhood driveway to anchor their tents.
There are food and laundry services, leisure facilities including a ‘blues lounge’ and children’s area, and herbs in planters on the lawn. Hot showers have been installed at Bus Stop C, one of the Wellington Rail Station bus stops.
The day began with a long line of protesters queuing for a breakfast of sausage and spaghetti at a food stand.
The hay on the ground had halted most of the bog conditions that plagued the protest last weekend and protesters laid mats on the traffic lanes through the makeshift camp to prevent them from turning into a slick of mud.
MetService meteorologist Dan Corrigan said a heavy rain warning for Wellington was lifted at 7am on Sunday.
Between 1am and 8am, 38.6mm of rain fell at Kelburn, the nearest weather station to Parliament. The heaviest rain occurred within the hour at 4am. A few scattered showers remained, but skies would clear throughout the day.
The tents span the grounds of Victoria University Law School and the concrete outside the National Library, Court of Appeal and Bowen House, where many MPs have their offices.
Occupancy inside Parliament is firmly entrenched, with catering and laundry services, leisure facilities including a ‘blues room’ and children’s area, and herbs in planters on the lawn in front of the building that houses the New Zealand legislature.
A fence surrounding the entire parliamentary complex should be considered, Speaker Trevor Mallard said.
Public access to the gardens – a tourist attraction and a favored gateway for commuters – will be significantly reduced, as part of airport security tightening after the 9/11 attacks in New York or spectator fencing in football stadiums around the world.
Coster maintains de-escalation is the answer
As the occupation grows and grows stronger, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is now facing calls for his resignation.
But he argues that de-escalation is the best way to resolve the impasse. “It can’t go on forever, very clearly,” he said in an interview on Saturday.
“We are focused on de-escalation and aim to limit and reduce the size of the protest and its impact on the city. If we don’t see the success of this strategy, we will have to look to other things,” he said.
“There would come a time when [force] is the only option. But the negative consequences of that, both locally and nationally, would be significant, and it’s something we would take a high threshold to move towards.
It came after repeated warnings that police would start towing vehicles through the streets around Parliament. Instead, the number of protesters’ vehicles nearly doubled in two days, from 450 on Wednesday to 800 on Friday.
Police towed a small number of illegally parked vehicles from a median strip on Thorndon Quay on the fringes of the protest at around 4pm on Saturday.
Coster was speaking after Canadian law enforcement — who also took a de-escalation approach to the truckers’ three-week protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa — began arresting protesters and towing vehicles.
Authorities continued to keep protesters away from the city center and said they had created a “safe zone” there where public gatherings are temporarily banned.
“We are in control of the situation on the ground and continue to move forward,” Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell said at a news conference Friday local time. He said fully uprooting the protest as it heads into its fourth weekend “will take time”.
Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly was forced to step down over his handling of the protests.
The counter-protest petition takes off
A Change.org petition calling on people outside parliament to leave parliament has now received over 72,000 signatures. The petition is titled “Tell Wellington protesters to go home – they are NOT the majority”. The petition describes the protesters as “a disparate group of conspiracy theorists, religious cultists, anti vaxxers, anti-mandate believers and flat earthers” and originally aimed to reach 50,000 signatures , but has now increased the target to 75,000.
Meanwhile, National Māori Authority Executive Chairman Matthew Tukaki has launched an online counter-protest, encouraging people to use #endtheprotest.
Tukaki said he was abused by protesters in Wellington; he knows a 16-year-old student who has been abused; and he had heard from a 21-year-old law student who cannot access his car.