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'It's a part of NZ': PM on protesters camped out at Parliament

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Feb 2022, 1:45PM
(Photo / File)

'It's a part of NZ': PM on protesters camped out at Parliament

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Feb 2022, 1:45PM

The Prime Minister says while she is concerned about misinformation running through a protest group outside Parliament, their right to be there is "a part of New Zealand". 

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country, Jacinda Ardern said while the gathering billed itself as against vaccine mandates there was a "range of perspectives", including those who were against vaccines entirely. 

The Herald today also viewed a vast array of concerns, from people who lost their jobs over the mandates to misinformation about vaccines and natural immunity, along with protests about Oranga Tamariki and even saving Marsden Point near Whangārei. 

Ardern said while vocal it was "not a large group". 

"I've seen a range of protests over my time and this is certainly not large in scale. And not representative of the vast majority of New Zealanders." 

At least 100 officers greeted protesters today, many of whom had camped overnight at Parliament after travelling across the country in convoy to protest vaccine mandates and the Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mid-morning the organisers were issued a trespass notice by Parliament security and accompanied by police. 

Organisers threw the notice back at security, and a crown of protesters swarmed on security and police, many yelling abuse. 

Asked about some of the views being portrayed, including that natural immunity was more effective than the vaccines, Ardern said it was concerning. 

"We should all be concerned about misinformation. Not just Covid and vaccines but generally. 

"There is a core here where actually they think that they're trying to save everyone else. 

"It is very hard to have a conversation about facts when they question everything. But remember – it's a small group – keep it in perspective. 

"The only reason they can move around is because majority of people are getting vaccinated." 

Police issue trespass notices during the anti-mandate protest and occupation at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

Asked why police did not simply move them along, particularly given it could be a "superspreader event", Ardern said these decisions were for police, as were decisions around traffic control. 

"You would never want a government in charge. That is always a call for police. 

"People often protest on the front lawn of Parliament. It is part of New Zealand. 

"You would not want a situation where the government of the day decided who was and wasn't to receive enforcement activities. That's a call for the police and so we'll leave that to the police." 

On her speech in Parliament yesterday outlining the year ahead, Ardern pulled back on "grim winter" headlines with surging Covid case numbers combined with an expected return of the flu. 

"I was optimistic. Modelling Omicron is hard. Seasonal flu – we haven't dealt with that yet, especially with the borders opening." 

On the controversial Three Waters reforms, Ardern said despite their unpopularity it was a problem that had to be solved particularly with greater impacts through climate change. 

"We're only having this conversation because we have a problem. 

"We have to solve it, and if not ratepayers and councils will be lumbered with bills and infrastructure repairs in the long run they just do not have the balance sheets for. 

"The status quo is not an option." 

People who opposed it were worried about things that were not going to happen, including privatisation and government taking assets, she said. 

Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on The Country above 

- by Michael Neilson, NZ Herald

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