National | Anti-lockdown Protest

Ūpoko o te Ika iwi urge quick end to Parliament protest

Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira is condemning the nearly two-week long protest and occupation of Parliament, and surrounding streets, and is urging for a quick resolution.

Board chair Callum Katene and chief executive Helmut Modlik say the iwi supports the right to peaceful protest in Aotearoa but has watched the anti-mandate protest with mixed feelings.

"The genuine anguish and anger of protesters has been evident and confronting and, given our history, is well understood by us," the pair said in a statement this afternoon.

"The impact of our nation’s public health response to the global pandemic has been world-leading and clearly saved New Zealanders' lives. It has, however, exacted a real and painful price for many and, for the protesters, the price has clearly been too high.  We understand that, and call on the Government to urgently evaluate the options for removing and healing that pain.

"However, the intimidating and threatening behaviour that some protesters have shown towards the Wellington community, and in particular, tamariki and rangatahi on their way to and from school, has been deplorable."

Targeted by protestors

Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira says its offices, marae and iwi members have been the target of intimidating and threatening behaviour in recent days "because of our many efforts to ensure the vaccinated safety of our communities.  This is utterly unacceptable.

"Also of concern, has been the impact on already hard-pressed, small business people in Wellington by protesters blocking the streets and intimidating them and their customers. This too is unacceptable."

Katene and Modlik say that, as mana whenua, the runanga has been led to support and encourage the government, Wellington City Council and police to clear the roads that have been blocked by a convoy of vehicles since last Monday, and to protect all those who have been and continue to be threatened, intimidated and victimised.

"We support the legal rights of protesters, and call on them to do the same for the people of Wellington."

Meanwhile, Taranaki Whānui leaders are calling on political leaders to resolve the situation on parliamentary grounds that once formed the historic Pipitea Pā.

Peace feather

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice says a political solution is required as much as a law enforcement one.

“Our political leaders need to find a way out of this and stop the harm that’s happening on our ancestral lands, with some protestors having threatened our people and property.

“We’ve already had smashed windows and threats made against some of our kuia and kaumatua and uri involved in the covid response," he said in a statement.

Puketapu-Dentice says attempts by protestors to compare the occupation of the grounds of Parliament to Parihaka amounts to cultural misappropriation.

“Our tribe’s symbol is the Raukura feather, representing peace and unity, which is the kaupapa we bring to this raruraru,” Puketapu-Dentice says.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster today activated a major operations centre, describing the impact of the protest on the city of Wellington as "no longer tenable".

Responses planned

A national security crisis hui was held today, where high-ranking government officials discussed the protest, and ways to effectively respond to it.

Meanwhile, protesters have again been told to clear the roads, or their vehicles will be towed as police say they have significantly increased their towing capacity. It is understood NZ Army vehicles with heavy-duty tow equipment are on standby in the capital, but a formal response from New Zealand Defence Force to a police request for assistance has not yet materialised.

Protestors occupying Nelson Square in Picton, after they failed to board a ferry to Wellington because of a lack of vaccine passes, have been issued with trespass notices by police and Marlborough District Council after refusing to leave, despite being offered alternative locations.