New Zealand is bracing for widespread anti-government protests planned across the country over coming weeks, with a large-scale demonstration to be held in Auckland on Saturday.
It comes as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is facing public backlash over her Labour government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the knock-on impact felt from the cost of living crisis.
The New Zealand government pushed one of the world’s strictest Covid elimination strategies that protesters say has led to the nation now on the verge of reaching ‘State-of-Emergency’ levels.
The Freedom and Rights Coalition, the group behind the upcoming protest, will stage a “Kiwi Patriots Day and March” at Auckland’s Domain on Saturday morning.
Led by Destiny Church’s Brian Tamaki, the group has issued a call on social media for people to join the disruptive action while a counter-protest is also gaining momentum with police engaging with the groups in a bid to maintain order.
The New Zealand Herald reports:
Police have confirmed they are in talks with organisers of this weekend’s anti-Government protest in and around Auckland Domain, which organisers threaten will be “impactive”.
A police spokesperson said they were discussing potential routes and plans with the group.
“Police recognise the lawful right to protest. We also recognise the rights of the public to go about their lawful business.
“We will monitor and respond to the situation accordingly to ensure public safety and to make sure any disruption to the public is kept to a minimum.”
The latest planned action comes just two weeks after a similar mass rally and march brought Auckland’s Southern Motorway to a standstill when demonstrators unexpectedly walked a stretch of motorway.
Hundreds marched up an on ramp and onto the busy highway bringing traffic to a halt in both directions catching commuters by surprise.
Protest organisers are calling the latest action an “opportunity to unite freedom fighters across the North Island and rally the public for the coming events ahead”.
A second event is planned for Christchurch the following weekend.