Ardern asks Wellington protestors to go home

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (RNZ Photo by Angus Dreaver)

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Wellington, February 14, 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a simple message for the protestors in Wellington: “Go home and take your children.”

Despite being trespassed from Parliament grounds several days ago, protesters are not showing any sign of leaving the scene.

Ms Ardern told Morning Report on February 14, 2022: “What has become very clear is this is not any form of protest that I have seen before. As we have said time and time again, ‘New Zealand is a place where protest is part of who we are. Some of our greatest movements have been born of people movements, many of which have entered the forecourt of Parliament. But I am seeing an imported form of protest. We have seen Trump flags, Canadian flags, people who are moving around the outskirts of the area with masks are being abused,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that children and young people on their way to school are being abused and that businesses are seeing people occupy their spaces.

“This is beyond a protest. Do I believe that they should be there? No. Should they go home? Yes. Especially, the children,” she said.

Wellington Police District Commander Corrie Parnell (Stuff Photo by Jericho Rock-Archer)

No olive branch

Ms Ardern defended Speaker Trevor Mallard, who had ordered sprinklers and loud music tuned on over the weekend.

“His job is to maintain a safe place to work. Right now it is a very difficult place for people to enter. This has not been a silent protest. What I have heard are clear anti-vaccination messages that do not align with a majority of New Zealanders. The Media have been abused, chased and called liars. So, some of the rhetoric and noise coming from the protest has been poor,” she said.

Is there an olive branch?

According to Ms Ardern, the protestors have not left any space for dialogue.

“What I have seen on that forecourt does not suggest that this group is interested in engaging in policy development. There are signs calling for the death of politicians,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that New Zealand is in the middle of a growing pandemic and hence this is not the time to move away from doing things that will keep New Zealanders safe.

She said that it was up to the Police to manage the situation.

The Police Plan

The Police have been appealing to protesters to work with them and clear the streets.

Wellington Police District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell said that there was no plan to wait for the protesters to move out on their own.

“It is absolutely for the Police to determine how they manage any form of occupation or protests. I hate to see in the future a situation where you have politicians seen to be instructing the Police on how to manage any type of protest and that extends to not passing judgement on operational decisions that are for them,” he said.

-Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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