2 Oct 2021

Hundreds break lockdown rules to protest restrictions

5:56 pm on 2 October 2021

Police say there have been no arrests or infringements issued after more than 1000 people turned up to an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland's domain arranged by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki.

Brian Tamaki speaking at an earlier protest

Brian Tamaki at an early Destiny Church protest. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The crowd who gathered in the Auckland Domain at midday included gang members and one vehicle had a banner reading: 'Let Freedom Reign'.

In a statement, a police spokesperson said they were disappointed that the large gathering at Auckland Domain earlier today was not in accordance with the health orders.

"While largely peaceful, the gathering of around 1000 people was in breach of Alert Level 3 restrictions, which limit gatherings to weddings, funerals and tangihanga with no more than 10 people."

Police said at this stage there have been no arrests or infringement notices issued.

"However, the lack of the participants staying two metres apart is a concern. Police are now considering prosecution options. Police respect the lawful right to protest, however in the current environment, such a gathering poses a serious risk to those present, police staff and the wider community.

"While many attendees did wear masks and attempt to distance, many more of those gathered today failed to wear a face covering or maintain social distancing - an undertaking given to police by organisers earlier in the week."

Auckland mayor Phil Goff believes most people will be angry that Tamaki went ahead with the protest.

Goff said more than a million Aucklanders have been following the rules in an effort to get out of lockdown.

"There is a risk of a mass gathering of people without masks not two metres apart.

"That's why we have the protocol; that's why we have the health order and he shouldn't feel that he's above the law. He should follow it the same as everyone else in the community has to do."

But Tamaki denied claims the crowd put others at risk from Covid-19.

He said they followed the public health order.

"We kept to the requirements with masks ...We might have had the odd one who had to be pulled back in but we had people there so it was good.

"People kept to their bubbles and it was really safe."

Police said they took a "prevention-first" approach to the gathering, by engaging with organisers ahead of today, and then deploying staff to monitor the situation.

Protests were also scheduled to take place in Wellington and Christchurch.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said there were fewer than 100 protesters gathered in Dunedin today, in a city where they are able to hold events for up to 100 people.