Police and security were on standby this afternoon, as nearly 100 protesters gathered outside Parliament for a “demonstration of freedom,” led by controversial political figure Billy Te Kahika.
Te Kahika is flanked by her personal security, which she brings to the protest.
Among the many signs – the most critical of the Government, the lockdown and the United Nations – are Donald Trump’s flags.
One protester told the Herald this morning that they “love Trump” – which appears to be a sentiment shared among a number of gathered.
Others at the protest carried the pink “Women for Trump” flag.
Before the protests began, Māori board chairman Matthew Tukaki labeled it an “alt-right, this is pro-Trump” event that had nothing to do with freedom.
Nonetheless, neither Te Kahika nor any of the speakers mentioned Trump, impeachment or anything to do with US politics.
Their comments were mostly aimed at the Government – objecting to the lockdown and questioning the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Clinical trials for vaccines are underway – medical officials around the world have urged people to get Covid-19 vaccinated to protect against the spread of the virus.
Te Kahika co-chairs the Advance NZ party, which won 1 percent of the total votes in the 2020 elections.
In light of last week’s raid of the US Capitol and the arrest of someone who broke a window in the New Zealand Parliament with an ax yesterday, there has been increased security at the protest.
Parliamentary security is enforced and there are police officers scattered around the Parliament grounds.
A police spokesman said they had been informed of the planned protest at the beehive, and were in contact with protest organizers.
“The role of the police is to ensure security and enforce the law, while recognizing the legal right to protest.”
They added that the police would recognize the legal right to protest, but were “ready to respond to any issues that arise”.
But Te Kahika brought his own security following him as he spoke to his supporters, and stood by as he spoke.
The protests were peaceful and non-violent – but speakers made a number of comments about Covid-19 that have been widely debunked.
After a few speeches their microphone battery ran out of power so they had to use megaphones a lot.
This is not the first rally organized by Te Kahika – his supporters did so in Auckland earlier this week.
Like today’s Wellington rally, there are a number of Trump flags.
That’s why Tukaki labeled the rally: “alt-right, pro-Trump, with nothing to do with freedom.”
“New Zealand is a country that stands out around the world today, we have freedom of movement in the face of the global pandemic, we can move freely across our countries.
“You can still go to the tangi and the funeral, you can still go see your moko who was just born in the hospital. You can still celebrate the 70th birthday.
“So what exactly are they talking about?”
In a Facebook post, Te Kahika asked his supporters to: “Stand together and fight a dangerous, unnecessary and illegal lockdown”.