Angry visitors arrived at the door of democracy in the capital today, with thousands of protesters marching to Parliament for various Covid-19-related reasons.
Their motives were unclear; some angry at lockdowns, the vaccine and vaccine mandates.
They arrived calling themselves freedom fighters and made sure they were heard by the decision makers inside.
Snaking through the city, they hurled abuse at media and the police – demanding an end to Covid-19 restrictions.
Tennis balls and water were thrown at media and police, with protesters holding flags and signs with an array of angry messages against lockdown, vaccination, the media and government.
It started in Civic Square where there was barely a mask in sight and social distancing was non-existent.
A woman over a loud speaker asked people to stay in their bubbles, just before the march started down the road to Parliament.
Led by motorbikes, the sea of protesters poured down the road where people on the street stopped to watch the commotion and some others were stuck in their vehicles with the roads blocked.
One man told RNZ he was not impressed and “a bit annoyed” as he waited in his van.
“I’ve got to go do my deliveries … it’s holding me up.”
At Parliament, security was ramped up with the crowd held back from the buildings – some protesters trying to jump the railings.
Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard said security had never been so tight in his more-than-30 years in the place.
Music blasted out on the lawn, thematically chosen – including Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us’, and Eminem and Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie’.
Voices behind pointed fingers yelled at the building housing the decision makers, the crowd rarking up in support of protesters who spoke over a microphone.
They claimed an array of things like being segregated and the government having “trampled on the rights of New Zealanders”.
Those RNZ spoke to espoused misinformation; it was clear they were angry and protesting for a variety of reasons.
They mentioned false information about vaccines but also wanted New Zealand to live with the virus, and not be concerned about the risks.
One man said he was not scared of Covid-19.
“When I get Covid, I will not go to hospital because I’m too fit,” he said.
He cited a “great source” that informed his views, but did not tell RNZ what that was.
Other people were upset about losing their jobs because they would not get vaccinated.
Others just want to be back with family in Auckland.
Inside Parliament, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern could hear it all.
She said the protesters’ views were not representative of the bulk of New Zealand – who she thanked for doing their part in the country’s effort to combat Covid-19.
“We’re at over 89 percent of eligible New Zealanders having had their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and I think they know and appreciate that we’re on a road to able to open up more – to having a bit more of that normality back.
“Yes it’s been a tough journey, but I think they can see that what we’ve done has been on behalf of everyone,” she said.
Police made no arrests but follow-up enforcement action will be considered in coming days.
Police said the protest was “largely peaceful”.