James Blunt music played to deter Parliament protesters
The protest against the Covid vaccine mandate outside Parliament is in its sixth day on Sunday and is expected to continue into the week.
Heavy downpours and strong winds in the capital did little to deter protesters, who camped out on the ground overnight.
Protesters appeared to be in good spirits despite the rain on Sunday with some people dancing.
Music was played over a loudspeaker in Parliament to deter protesters, including songs by Celine Dion, Barry Manilow and James Blunt.
Blunt, a British musician had previously tweeted that New Zealand police could contact him if Manilow’s sounds weren’t enough to bring protesters home.
The Ministry of Health has taken steps to quell rumors of possible Covid-19 cases linked to the protest.
In the ministry’s afternoon statement, it said: “The Wellington Regional Public Health Office has confirmed that there are currently no reported positive cases linked to the protest. However, we encourage all everyone to be vigilant and get tested if they get sick with symptoms of Covid-19”.
Heavy rains hit the capital on Sunday.
An amber heavy rain warning is in place, with 100-180mm of rain expected to accumulate.
A strong wind watch has also been issued for Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds until Sunday afternoon.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson opened up to Q+A on Sunday morning about his concerns about the toll the protests are taking on MPs’ families.
“The thing that I think about in those moments, Jack, is not me. It’s my family. And other politicians’ families. They didn’t sign up for that. And I think that’s really important as New Zealanders, we breathe,” Robertson said.
“I think all the politicians have taken the time to take stock of this exact issue lately. The Prime Minister, as everyone will have seen, has been the subject of harassment and threats. All the politicians have had more lately – I have.
Former National Party member Matt King was among those who spoke at the protest on Saturday afternoon, saying “we’re going to win this”.
King plans to stick around for the next two days.
On Friday, a national spokesperson dismissed King’s actions, saying the party is “strongly pro-vaccination and does not support the anti-vaccination actions or messages of those involved in Convoy 2022.”
“Everyone has the right to protest, but people should not become aggressive and violent, break the rules or infringe on the freedoms of others.”
Meanwhile, the government responded on Saturday evening after Labor MP Terisa Ngobi had her office vandalized with anti-warrant messages.
“These acts of property damage and harassment are illegal,” a government spokesman said.
“The right to protest must always be protected but the damage and intimidation has gone too far.
“People have a choice not to get the Covid-19 vaccine, but they must respect the rights of those who do, who make up the overwhelming majority of New Zealand.
“As government, our goal remains to prepare for the increase in Omicron cases and to ensure that more New Zealanders are as safe as possible.”
Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell said in a statement on Friday that police would continue to monitor and contain protest activity on the grounds of Parliament.
“Police have identified a range of different causes and motivations among the protesters, which makes it difficult to open clear and meaningful lines of communication,” he said.
“Misinformation, particularly on social media, has been identified as a problem.”
“Some factions are actively promoting false advice on people’s rights and police powers, which is misleading and factually incorrect.
“For example, the use of a particular word or phrase by an individual will not affect the arrest of anyone involved in illegal activity.”