Lockdown protest stops traffic in Whangārei

Author
Adam Pearse, Northern Advocate,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 1:56PM
Protesters walk down Dent St in Whangārei. Photo / Tania Whyte
Protesters walk down Dent St in Whangārei. Photo / Tania Whyte

Lockdown protest stops traffic in Whangārei

Author
Adam Pearse, Northern Advocate,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 1:56PM

Traffic came to a halt in Whangārei this morning as protesters took to the streets to oppose the Government's Covid-19 social restrictions.

About 60 people gathered at the Whangārei police station after people from two groups - FACTS NZ and Kotahitanga Movement Aotearoa - held separate marches walking from Forum North to the police station where both groups held a kōrero referencing how the Government's alert level system, among other things, violated their rights.

Members of both groups then combined to walk along Walton St and along Dent St, stopping cars at traffic lights and roundabouts as they walked along the road.

Initially, two police officers monitored the first march at Forum North. As the groups spilled onto the road, over a dozen officers were patrolling alongside the protest.

Kotahitanga Movement Aotearoa member and protest leader Reti Boynton. Photo / Tania Whyte

Kotahitanga Movement Aotearoa member and protest leader Reti Boynton. Photo / Tania Whyte

"We don't consent to this coronavirus lockdown that was called the other day, [alert] level three in Auckland, level two everywhere else," Kotahitanga Movement Aotearoa member and protest leader Reti Boynton said.

"We can actually read it like a book, it's going to go to level 4 again and we don't consent to it, especially without being spoken to first."

There were a number of exchanges between the protest leaders and police, as police attempted to clear the traffic build-up and keep people safe.

Boynton said he hoped the protest would make their concerns clear.

"We are sick of our people not being heard, that's why...we spoke outside of the police station, we the people are speaking and we wish to be heard."

New Zealand Public Party leader Billy Te Kahika (centre) joins in on the march. Photo / Tania Whyte

New Zealand Public Party leader Billy Te Kahika (centre) joins in on the march. Photo / Tania Whyte

Members of the New Zealand Public Party, including leader and Northlander Billy Te Kahika, were in attendance but said they had not organised the protest. Te Kahika said he supported the protest.

Whangārei senior sergeant Steve Dickson was one of many police officers monitoring the group as they progressed through the town.

"They are entitled to protest," Dickson said.

"We just don't want the intersection blocked, just making sure that everyone else can go about their business."

Dickson said police would monitor the situation and ensure it stayed peaceful.