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New Zealand tried to oust protesters by blasting James Blunt and Celine Dion

14 February 2022 - 07:51 By Matthew Brockett
New Zealand protesters occupying parliament grounds in Wellington were bombarded by a cyclone and Barry Manilow songs over the weekend, but vowed to stay until the government ends vaccine mandates.
New Zealand protesters occupying parliament grounds in Wellington were bombarded by a cyclone and Barry Manilow songs over the weekend, but vowed to stay until the government ends vaccine mandates.
Image: Bloomberg

New Zealand protesters occupying parliament grounds in Wellington were bombarded by a cyclone and Barry Manilow songs over the weekend, but vowed to stay until the government ends Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

The protest entered its seventh day on Monday with the lawns in front of parliament covered by a sea of tents and a large and noisy crowd in attendance. When the remnants of Cyclone Dovi lashed the capital city on Saturday with high winds and torrential rain turning the grounds into a mud bath, protesters covered the area with hay.

They also withstood efforts by parliament’s speaker, Trevor Mallard, to oust them by blasting songs from Manilow, James Blunt and Celine Dion over loud speakers — a tactic police said they would not have endorsed.

Concerns are growing about sanitation at the site, particularly as some protesters have small children with them. Streets around parliament remain blocked by cars and campervans, frustrating local businesses, but police appear unwilling to precipitate further confrontation after making more than 120 arrests last week. 

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has appealed to the demonstrators to “go home and take your children”, saying their actions have gone “beyond a protest”  .  

“This is not any form of protest I’ve seen before,” she told Radio New Zealand.

“We’ve seen [former US president Donald] Trump flags, Canadian flags. Children and young people on their way to school are being abused. Businesses are seeing people occupy their spaces. There are signs there calling for the death of politicians. We all want them to leave.”

Wellington police superintendent Corrie Parnell said the protest is causing “real stress and concern.”

“We continue to appeal to protesters to leave the demonstration and take their children,” he said.

“We have concerns about the health risks posed and sanitation issues.”

The protest was inspired by the recent anti-mandate trucker convoy in Canada. In neighboring Australia, a similar demonstration has been taking place in Canberra, where protesters have gathered for weeks to call for an end to vaccine mandates.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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