A man started to scale the outside of the Beehive and a person collapsed as a large anti-mandate protest amassed outside Parliament in Wellington.
Brian Tamaki’s daughter, Jasmine McPhee, was one of the speakers as rain fell on the protesters, whose numbers had grown from the hundreds on Thursday morning, when they gathered at Wellington’s Civic Square, to multiple thousands as they marched down Lambton Quay to Parliament.
The protest was organised by Brian Tamaki’s Freedom & Rights Coalition, which is against vaccine mandates and Covid-19 restrictions.
Speeches have now finished on Parliament grounds to the message, “ho ho ho, Jacinda must go”. Stuff reporters at the scene report that a woman in the crowd had to be treated by ambulance staff after collapsing. A man, who had scaled to the exterior of the first floor of the Beehive, was talked down.
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A Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman said a person was being treated by staff and was in a moderate condition.
Tamaki estimated up to 50,000 people would be at the protest, and by midday the crowd stretched from Parliament all the way back to Willis St, and looked to be several thousand.
About 50 police officers were at Parliament.
Protesters had earlier gathered at Civic Square before heading to Willis St at 11.30 where they were joined by a contingent of motorcycles before marching to Parliament.
“New Zealand’s political system no longer serves the people, and needs total reform,” a statement from Tamaki’s Freedom & Rights Coalition on Thursday morning said.
“Parliament are obviously getting the message loud and clear, and they’ve adjourned sitting in Parliamentary chambers early as they take the time to pack up their offices today.”
Parliament was, in fact, always scheduled to wind up on Wednesday – as it does at the same time each year.
It’s understood groups from around the North Island, including from Auckland, travelled to the capital to attend the protest.
It comes after a large protest, attended by an estimated 5000 people marched through the central city last month. No arrests were made in what police described as a “largely peaceful” protest.
Some Government departments warned their staff to stay safe in Wellington on Thursday, or work from home, if necessary.
WorkSafe sent out a note to its Wellington staff reminding staff of “practical precautions” they could take.
Wellington City Council spokeswoman Victoria Barton-Chapple said the council did not receive an official request from protest organisers.
Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said additional security measures were in place.
“Parliament’s security team regularly liaise with the police and conduct risk assessments of any event planned to take place at Parliament.”