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Protestors gather on steps of Parliament

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New Zealand News | Friday May 4 2012 13:33

Protestors gather on steps of Parliament

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The Aotearoa Is Not For Sale hikoi has made its final journey to the steps of parliament today, with thousands of New Zealanders there to make their point.

PHOTOS: Hikoi descends on Parliament

One of the people behind the anti-asset sales hikoi believe politicians ignore the protest's message at their peril.

Hikoi organiser Mike Smith says increasingly the issue will become more toxic politically.

"You can see the cross section of people that are here today, and so I think unless they take notice of this they will be severely punished at the next election."

Mr Smith says the popularity of opposition parties is rising and the confidence in the Government is waning.

VIDEO: Hikoi reaches Parliament

United Future MP Peter Dunne's been the centre of attention at a Hikoi at Parliament today.

With Mr Dunne being targeted as the MP who will allow asset sales legislation to pass, his political opponents have been quick to encourage protesters to take their concerns to the representative for Ohariu.

Labour Deputy Leader Grant Robertson and New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters both made a point of attacking Mr Dunne's support for the policy.

Protesters are worried the government has taken a short-sighted look at the sale of state assets.

Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster is protesting and says he has a solid stance on the issue.

"I don't agree with selling assets that can make us money for a long period of time, basically to pay for the groceries. We're running a huge government deficit and this doesn't seem to be the sensible way of trying to address that."

Andy Foster says the fact there's only one-vote majority in parliament's also of concern.

Hika Pene is one of the protesters, and he says they need to look ahead.

"I'm just a bit worried that every time these things come up, that I think 50 years ahead, you know what are we going to have then? So if I don't stand up now I think that's a very scary future, so that's why I'm here to support it."

Wellington City councillor Stephanie Cook says the huge crowd was drawn because of the importance to Kiwis. She says it's a national issue that has has support in each area visited.

"I'm just here to support the notion of not selling off Aotearoa, New Zealand really. I think it's great to see so many people turning out and trying to send a clear message to this government that they don't have the mandate that they seem think they have."

Mana Leader Hone Harawira's exhorted opponents to put political allegiances aside and work together to stop asset sales.

"Our grandparents built these assets and these bastards want to sell out from under us."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says any assets sold will be re-nationalised under a change of Government.

"When we do regain power we're taking it back and not for a cent more than they paid for it."

No government MPs were present to greet the protest.

The Prime Minister apparently had no idea an anti-asset sale Hikoi was coming to parliament today.

John Key's been in Auckland while a couple of thousand protestors have been at Parliament making their opposition to the Government's asset sales programme known.

When asked about the hikoi Mr Key asked where it had been held and how many had marched.

He told reporters he wasn't aware it was happening.

Mr Key says partial asset sales were front and centre on the election campaign and his party's vote went up.

Photo: Protestors on Parliament's steps (Yvette McCullough)

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