- Protesters from the Freedom and Rights Coalition led by Brian Tamaki were met with a counter-protest in central Auckland.
- Police intervened between the two groups when tensions erupted around noon.
- Road users were warned to expect traffic disruption and police closed two links to the southern highway.
- The protesters, led by Brian Tamaki, then took part in a march before returning to the Auckland Domain.
- The march ended around 2:30 p.m. and the demonstrators dispersed soon after.
- No arrests have been made, but police will conduct a review to decide if any follow-up action is necessary.
Tensions flared between protesters from the Freedom and Rights Coalition led by Brian Tamaki and a rival group at the Auckland Domain on Saturday afternoon.
The two groups have grown close since the protest began at 11 a.m. and police saw fit to intervene as some rival protesters clashed around noon.
Police formed a line between them, as protesters from the Freedom and Rights Coalition camp moved towards the small group of counter-protesters.
A small number of counter-protesters held firm, continuing to wave rainbow flags and play disco music.
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A war of words erupted, with both sides calling on the other to “go home”.
Shortly before 1 p.m., tensions between the two protest groups died down, with the line of police keeping the peace.
At around 1:40 p.m., the anti-government protest began rolling out of the estate towards Grafton.
Protesters chanted their belief that the government should drop Covid-19 vaccination mandates for nurses as they marched past Auckland Hospital.
A person inside the hospital could be seen making an obscene gesture at protesters through a window.
Protesters bypassed the freeway on-ramps and walked up Symonds St. Traffic around the intersection of Symonds St and Karangahape Rd came to a complete stop.
The walk eventually looped and ended at the Auckland Domain around 2:30 p.m.
Police had earlier warned road users to be prepared for traffic disruptions following the protest, which also resulted in the cancellation of several children’s football matches on the estate.
A police spokesperson confirmed that the Southern Freeway on- and off-ramps at Kyber Pass were closed to minimize disruption.
However, around 12:40 p.m., Tamaki took the stage in front of around 300 people and told them that they weren’t going to march on the freeway.
Auckland City East Area Commander Inspector Jim Wilson said if it was a “peaceful protest” police would complete a review in the coming weeks.
He said the focus was on balancing the safety of all protesters and the public, while recognizing the right to protest peacefully and lawfully.
“We would like to thank those members of the public who postponed travel to the affected areas today and acknowledge those who were inconvenienced.”
Freedom & Rights Coalition demonstration in Christchurch. Video first published on July 23, 2022.
Police said around 500 people attended the protest and no arrests were made.
It comes two weeks after the group led a protest along a section of the southern highway between Mt Eden and Newmarket. No charges have yet been laid, but police investigations are continuing.
The Freedom and Rights Coalition, led by Tamaki’s Destiny Church, described the latest protest as a “Kiwi Patriots Day and March” and farmers’ market.
This time he faced a counter-protest dubbed “FARC of Brian” – a play on the acronym Freedom and Rights Coalition – organized by Mark Graham in opposition to the “message of exclusion and hatred” of Tamaki.
The Freedom and Rights Coalition said its protest is about “unenforceable” regulations for farmers, “reckless” spending of taxpayers’ money and “endless” shutdowns that are hurting businesses.
It also calls for better housing market conditions for first-time home buyers, better mental health services, protection of religious rights and tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) for indigenous peoples.
Several of the protesters could be seen sporting Z symbols – which are considered to indicate support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – either on their skin or on their clothes.
At 11 a.m., the dispute between the two protests involved a competition over the volume of music with John Farnham and Sister Sledge echoing across the grounds of the Auckland museum.
Participants in the counter-protest were asked to protest in a fun, peaceful and non-violent way and to wear pink or bright colors.
“We will not try to stop anyone from walking on the highway, it is not our job. We are not looking for a confrontation, but to show that a diverse and inclusive community has a positive message for New Zealand,” Graham told the Facebook event.
Claudia Wyss, director of customer and community services for Auckland Council, wrote to the Freedom and Rights Coalition on Tuesday warning the group that their event and the farmers’ market may breach a bylaw banning events and trading in a public place controlled by the council without a permit.
Wyss also warned that the group would be liable for any damage to council property during the event and asked that they ‘honour the importance of those who have served our nation’ by not occupying the cenotaph and courtyard. of honor in front of the Auckland War Museum. .
Additionally, it was important that protesters did not interfere with sports groups using the area on Saturday.