2 Mar 2022

As it happened: Anti-mandate protest enters 23rd day as police descend on Parliament

8:09 pm on 2 March 2022

Tents were set alight on Parliament grounds today, protesters clashed with police and three officers have been taken to hospital, after bricks were torn up and thrown at them.

There were rowdy scenes of protesters fighting with police and at least three suffered injuries. Many protesters were also sprayed with pepper spray.

Photo Gallery: Early morning clash between police and protesters.

Watch: Police and protesters struggle. Warning: Footage contains violence and may have profanity.

RNZ is having technical difficulties with our liveblog provider. In the meantime latest updates here. Please refresh for updates:

8:06pm: Thanks for joining us for our live updates today, we're wrapping them up for the night now but you can keep up-to-date with any further developments on the website.

7:56pm: Further afield in the Wellington region, the mayor of Porirua is concerned that the council has been forced to close campervan parking areas, due to an influx of apparant anti-mandate protesters. The Ngāti Toa Domain hit capacity last night, with up to 50 tents erected and rumours that more campers may be on the way. Mayor Anita Baker says public health is a major concern as the areas are only set up for self-contained campervans. She says there have been unconfirmed reports of a number of sick people at the domain and bollards have been erected to stop more vehicles from entering the grounds.

Police at Featherston Street.

Police advancing in Featherston Street. Photo: RNZ

7:42pm: Large numbers of police are advancing up Featherston Street. They are lining up to block the Bunny Street/Featherston Street intersection.


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Police in central Wellington. Photo: RNZ

7:37pm: People are being urged to stay away from the area around Parliament tonight, as the police operation to restore order continues. Many protesters have now converged at the intersection of Bunny and Featherston Streets after the police cleared the illegal campsite on Parliament grounds. Welingtonians are being asked to avoid the central business district near the Railway Station, the Pipitea campus of Victoria University and the northern end of Lambton Quay tonight.

7:35pm: Police are firing rounds of sponge bullets as they retreat slowly away from Featherston Street towards Parliament.

7:30pm: About 150 protestors are peacefully facing police with riot shields on Featherston Street near the Railway Station. Metlink earlier announced that the Wellington railway station was closed and all rail services suspended to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all passengers as the protest action around Parliament continues to escalate.


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Police collect bricks and bottles from the protest site. Photo: RNZ


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Riot police in the Wellington CBD this afternoon. Photo: RNZ


Protesters still standing off with police at the intersection between Bunny and Featherston streets.

Protesters still standing off with police at the intersection between Bunny and Featherston streets. Photo: RNZ


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Rubbish left behind at the Parliament protest site. Photo: RNZ


Protesters pull up pavers to throw at police outside Parliament.

Protesters pull up pavers to throw at police outside Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Katie Scotcher

7:02: Metlink has closed Wellington Station and suspended all rail services, on the advice of the police. Metlink says it will assess the situation throughout the night and make a decision, with the advice of police, when services can safely resume.

6:54: Police are throwing signs and rubbish into piles clearing a section of Lambton Quay they have secured.

6:37pm: Police are firing sponge bullet rounds at protesters who have been forced out of Parliament Grounds. One man told RNZ he was hit by one of the missiles while he was trying to stop protestors from throwing bricks at the police. He says the pain was intense and left him unable to move or breath for some time.

One man said he was hit by a sponge bullet when he had trying been trying to stop other protesters from throwing bricks at police.

Police have been firing sponge bullets. Photo: RNZ

6:32pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled there will be a review of the protest occupation at Parliament to determine if more could have been done to prevent it from happening. She says two pieces of work will be completed, with one of the aims being ensuring parliamentary security is sufficient. Ardern says the government will also look at enforcement powers, police resources and any threats to critical infrastructure.

6:28pm: The Assistant Police Comissioner says Parliament Grounds have been reclaimed after 23 days of occupation. The police have moved onto the grounds, pushing back protesters and removing tents, signs and infrastructure. Richard Chambers told Checkpoint that the operation started early this morning and was met with significant violence from some of the protesters.


Protesters directing traffic so cars can get through.

Protesters directing traffic so cars can get through. Photo: RNZ

6:21: A line of officers are slowing backing down at the bus interchange towards Parliament. Officers are firing sponge bullets that are ricocheting off the interchange.


Someone smashed the window at Victoria University yelling "you f***ed with the wrong people".

Someone smashed the window at Victoria University yelling "you f***ed with the wrong people". Photo: RNZ

6:11: Police will continue efforts to clear Parliament Grounds tonight, after regaining control this afternoon.

Assistant Police Commissioner, Richard Chambers says it is time for them to do the right thing and go home.

6pm:Latest police update - Police say they have now cleared Molesworth Street of all protester vehicles that had previously been blocking the street. There have been 65 arrests today for a range of offences including trespass, wilful damage, and possession of restricted weapons. Up to 50 vehicles have been towed and approximately another 30 departed. Three police staff are being treated in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

5:54pm: Police have had pitchforks, sticks and pipes used against them in the operation to clear the protest at Parliament today, Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers told Checkpoint. "We've made magnificent progress today our staff have done an incredible job, in very challenging circumstances," he says. "You will have seen that has been met with significant resistance and violence from some, and we are very pleased with the way that our staff dealt with it today."



Police in riot gear at the steps at Parliament.

Police in riot gear at the steps at Parliament. Photo: RNZ

5:40pm: Jacinda Ardern says the protest was an attack on democracy - the country will not be defined by a small occupation. She says she is saddened and angered by the protesters' action - parliament's grounds have been desecrated.

5:33pm: [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/462598/watch-live-jacinda-ardern-speaks-after-violence-erupts-in-parliament-grounds Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] says thank you to police for today's operation clearing the protesters from Parliament. She is due to speak at 5.30pm.

5:28pm: Getting hoses ready down at Lambton blockade police have moved everyone back across the road.

5:24pm: More explosions as police come back down the steps.

5:10pm: Police are shouting at the crowd on Bowen Street to get back.


Police fending off missiles thrown by the protesters near Bowen Street.

Police fending off missiles thrown by the protesters near Bowen Street. Photo: RNZ


Several police appear to be injured.

Several police appear to be injured. Photo: RNZ

4:57pm: Police have issued another statement saying

Fire and Emergency NZ responded to a number of small fires deliberately lit on Parliament grounds this afternoon.

The fires have been contained and there were no reports of injury. These actions put both protesters and emergency service staff at significant risk, the statement said. Police continue to advise members of the public to avoid the Parliament precinct. Police also encourage anyone who wishes to leave the protest but needs assistance, to make themselves known to our staff.

4:57pm: Lambton Quay gate is a stand-off. Hundreds of angry protesters are taking their chances with a powerful fire hose to throw bricks at the police line. People standing around watching, filming and laughing. Someone can be heard saying "they'll have to go home and we'll be back". Another person saying "they did this to themselves, the protest was peaceful".

4:51pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will "provide comment on the events outside Parliament" at 5.30pm.

4:43pm: More cars are leaving Lambton Quay. About a dozen now. Emptying out but hundreds still here and they are very angry, an RNZ reporter says..

4:40pm: There are arrests at the bottom of Molesworth Street.

4:39pm: Police are spraying protesters with fire hoses. Protesters are hurling large rocks at the police at the bottom of Molesworth Street.

4:37pm: Looks like police have largely cleared Molesworth Street. Protesters gathered near bus interchange, law school and bottom of Lambton Quay.


People watching from the Beehive.

People watching from the Beehive. Photo: RNZ


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Police have moved to the bottom of Molesworth Street. Protesters are hurling cones and tables at them. Photo: RNZ

4:22pm: Heavy machinery appears to be clearing Molesworth Street next to Bowen Street. The police line is quickly moving down road.

4:17pm: Fires are being lit under trees on the Bowen Street side. An RNZ reporter says there is infighting with people pushing people or standing over them and accusing them of lighting fires.

4:15pm: Police have issued a statement saying they "are this afternoon removing some of the makeshift infrastructure from the protest area around Parliament.

Structures such as tents, gazebos and toilets have been removed by Police.The removal of these items will help restore freedom of movement in the area."

4:09pm: Police are now lined up at top of steps to Parliament. They have pushed across the forecourt in front of beehive.


Police using hoses on the fire from behind riot shields.

Police trying to extinguish the fire from behind riot shields. Photo: RNZ

4:03pm: The fire has allowed the police to make significant ground. They are now halfway across Parliament's lawn.

4:02pm: Huge bangs are coming as unknown objects explode in tents.

4:02pm: Meanwhile Orcon says internet services are coming back online now, following a brief outage. It says customers still offline need to be patient and hold off contacting the call centre, which is experiencing an influx of calls.

3:56pm: Another tent is lit on fire and another protester puts it out with water saying "stop burning shit!"

3:54pm: There is also an incident around the pile of belongings, people getting punched and accused of stealing from it.

3:53pm: Some people are cheering and throwing things on the fire.


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Parliament's slide is on fire. Photo: RNZ


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Photo: RNZ

3:47pm: Police have issued another update saying they have now arrested 38 people since 6am today. They said about 30 vehicles, including large vehicles such as trucks and campervans, have been towed.

3:45pm: Police sirens are blaring. They are urging protesters to move back for their own safety. Water is now being hosed onto the fire from behind riot shields.

3:45pm: Protesters seen running back down Molesworth Street and a second explosion is heard.

3:43pm: Protesters saying gas bottles in tents and are urging people to move back, reporters report hearing explosion.


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Photo: RNZ


Something is set on fire but police come in with fire extinguishers to put it out.

Something is set on fire but police come in with fire extinguishers to put it out. Photo: RNZ


Police with shields.

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

3:35: People are breaking tents to use as weapons, some have used the poles like javelins. Protesters are throwing wood, whilst others are telling them not to throw stuff at police.

3:29: About half of the lawn has been taken back by police and there's a big pile of tents that have been ripped out. Protesters checking no one is in tents before police come through.

3:27: Police are pushing right up to the fence, the protesters are saying to storm Parliament. You can hear things breaking everywhere as people try to get their belongings out, one RNZ reporter says.

3:23pm: Police have advanced a good 30 metres into the lawn ripping out tents as they go, removing barriers and signs. The main resistance still on Molesworth St, crowds are retreating on the lawn as police move forward.

3:20: RNZ reporters say police are making major ground now after a massive push.

3:19: A number of protesters are bringing their belongings out of parl grounds.

3:17: Protesters gathering glass bottles. Seems they are about to throw them at police.

3:13: A few protesters are asking others to retreat back to Parliament's lawn. No one is immediately responding.


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Photo: RNZ


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Protesters wash their eyes after being sprayed. Photo: RNZ

3:02pm: More stuff being hurled at police, more fire extinguishers.


Some sort of gas has been fired into protesters.

Some sort of gas has been fired into protesters. Photo: RNZ

See how the day's earlier events unfolded here.

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