New Zealand police tighten cordon around protester convoy outside parliament

Police and protesters clashing in Wellington, New Zealand
Police and protesters clash outside parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Tuesday.
(George Heard / New Zealand Herald)

One protester drove a car toward a police line, narrowly avoiding officers, while other demonstrators sprayed officers with a stinging substance, authorities said Tuesday as they tightened a cordon around a convoy that has been camped outside New Zealand’s parliament for two weeks.

The clashes in the capital, Wellington, came a day after police reported that some of the anti-vaccine mandate protesters had thrown human feces at them.

Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers told reporters that the actions of some of the protesters were unacceptable and would be dealt with assertively.


“Our focus remains on opening the roads up to Wellingtonians and doing our absolute best to restore peaceful protest,” Chambers said. “The behavior of a certain group within the protest community is absolutely disgraceful.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said protesters had taken things too far and needed to return home.

“What’s happening in Wellington is wrong,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier that the powers were still needed despite police ending the occupation of the nation’s capital by truckers over the weekend.

Feb. 21, 2022

The latest clashes began after about 250 officers and staff arrived at dawn and used forklifts to move concrete barriers into a tighter cordon around the encampment, where hundreds of cars and trucks remain blocking city streets. Police have used the barriers this week to allow protest cars to leave but none to enter.

Video posted online shows a white car driving the wrong way down a one-way street toward a group of officers who quickly get out of the way while people shout. The vehicle comes to a stop at the police line, and several officers climb inside and pull out the driver.

Police said the officers had been lucky to escape injury after the car stopped just short of running into them. They said they arrested one person for driving in a dangerous manner and two others for obstructing police.

Chambers said the three officers who were sprayed with the unknown stinging substance had been treated at a hospital and were recovering well.


Canada deals with images of truckers and others protesting against COVID-19 mandates and leveling other grievances, sometimes with vulgarity and incivility.

Feb. 16, 2022

The protest, which began when a convoy of cars and trucks drove to parliament, was inspired by similar protests in Canada. Protesters here have been well-organized, setting up tents on the lawns outside parliament and trucking in portable toilets, crates of donated food and bales of straw to lay down when the grass turned to mud after parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard turned on the sprinklers and blasted Barry Manilow tunes in an attempt to make them leave.

Protesters have even dug a vegetable garden, set up a day-care tent and assembled makeshift showers, signaling their intent to stay a long time.

New Zealand has mandated that certain workers get vaccinated against COVID-19, including teachers, doctors, nurses, police and military personnel. A vaccine pass is also required to enter most stores and restaurants.

The protests come as New Zealand experiences its first big COVID-19 outbreak, which has been fueled by the Omicron variant. Daily case numbers jumped to a new high of more than 2,800 on Tuesday, although only a single patient was hospitalized in an intensive care unit. About 77% of the population is vaccinated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, New Zealand has reported just 56 coronavirus-related deaths among its population of 5 million, after it imposed strict border controls and lockdowns to eliminate earlier outbreaks.

Ardern said earlier this week that she plans to begin easing virus mandates and restrictions once the peak of the current outbreak has passed.