The occupation on Parliament’s lawn and the surrounding streets “is no longer a protest”, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the stand-off with police stretches into its tenth day.
Hundreds have set up camp for over a week, with stalls and food areas set up.
On Thursday threats and accusations were still written in chalk all around Parliament buildings, slurs were displayed from some vehicles, while some protesters continued to spread misinformation over loudspeakers.
New signs had been erected on the edge of the protest apologising to people who have been abused on their way to work.
“Protest is not illegal in New Zealand,” Jacinda Ardern said from Rotorua.
“Building camps on the lawn of Parliament, obstructing the ability of young people to go to school, of workers to operate and harassing those who are wearing masks and taking measures to keep themselves safe.
“That is the activity that is absolutely unacceptable and everyone in Parliament I’ve heard has called on that to end,” she said.
“What this has turned into is no longer a protest.”
Many of the protesters were calling for the end of vaccine mandates.
Ardern said there would be a time “where we’re in a position to move away from restrictions, in the same way we moved away from lockdowns and that we’re opening our borders”.
“But right now is not that time”.
Ardern said they had a “duty of care for all New Zealanders, as this pandemic grows that we’re focused on them and their well-being.”
She reiterated there would be a time where they would look to remove or lessen restrictions “that we’ve all had to live with”.
“But as the pandemic grows, that is not the time to do that.”
Ardern said she did not expect the situation “to change quickly”.
“We’re all prepared that it may take some time.
“What is happening there is illegal. We’re all clear on that.”
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