23 Dec 2011

Aotea Square occupiers decide whether to leave

5:33 am on 23 December 2011

Protesters occupying Aotea Square in Auckland are deciding whether to shift their protest to another park after losing a bid to stay in the public area.

The Occupy Auckland group, which has been camping in the city centre for more than two months, had sought a stay of a court order requiring them to leave the area by 2.30pm on Friday.


The Auckland Council, which had sought the order, was granted it on Wednesday.

At the Auckland District Court on Thursday, Judge David Wilson refused Occupy Auckland's application for a stay, pending appeal.

The hearing was held in chambers so no other details can be released.

Radio New Zealand's reporter was at Aotea Square on Thursday afternoon and says whether they move their tents to a new site, the protesters have agreed they will be in Aotea Square to meet officials on Friday.

A spokesperson for the group who goes by the name Redstar says some protesters want to stay in their tents and face being arrested.

He says others are in favour of moving their protest to another park once they have been told to leave.

An Auckland councillor George Woods says if the occupiers do move to another park the council will take further court action against them.

He says the council will not tolerate people camping when they are not authorised to do it and will look at each case, if the group moves, as it crops up.

Mr Woods says the legal precedent set by the current court order should make removing the protesters from another site easier than it has been at Aotea Square.

The number of campers who have been staying in the square has ranged between about 70 and 100 in the past few weeks.

Earlier on Thursday, a group of about 30 protesters tried unsuccessfully to get into the Auckland Town Hall to talk to city officials. The way was blocked by 15 to 20 police officers and five or six security guards.

Protesters say they're out of money

Earlier, Occupy Auckland said it was running out of money to keep the protest going. It said the occupation had cost more than $12,000 and public donations have dried up.

The group set up camp on 15 October.

The Auckland Council has voted to ask them to leave Aotea Square voluntarily before they are forced to leave.

One councillor, Cathy Casey, says she feels sick at the idea of police being sent to clear Auckland citizens from the site. She

says the council should use mediation instead.