120 arrested in standoff between police and protestors

updated By James Perry

Police and protestors face off at parliament. Photo/NZME

At least 120 people have been arrested and carried away from parliament in a standoff between police and protestors.

Police are now saying it could be days before the protestors are removed from parliament grounds, which have now been closed to the public by the Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard.

Police will continue to have a presence at Parliament into the night and as long as necessary to ensure public safety.

Tensions rose and fell through the day as police and protestors, more than six hours after police started removing those camping on the lawn in front of the parliament building.

Periodic scuffles have broken out throughout the day as police attempted to remove the group protesting Covid-19 vaccine mandates for a third day.  

Those arrested face charges of trespassing and obstructing and will be bailed to appear in court at a later date.

"it is disappointing that despite the grounds being officially closed to the public earlier today, a number of protesters are refusing repeated requests to leave the precinct, Wellington Police district commander Corrie Parnell said.

"We continue to acknowledge people’s rights to protest, however those who behave unlawfully will face arrest."

Wellington City Mayor, Andy Foster has said parking wardens will begin issuing infringement notices for vehicles illegally parked on surrounding streets, while police are urging people to remove their cars, or face enforcement action. 

A frontline of about 40 officers, with a number in support behind, initially pushed the group back off the concrete forecourt where the standoff began this morning. 

The protestors have been periodically singing waiata, and the New Zealand national anthem throughout the morning, with occasional calls over a loudspeaker for the protestors to "hold the line".

Trespass notice

Police are attempting to remove the protestors from parliament after a trespass notice was issued this morning after the Speaker of the House closed the grounds to the public.

"Police have appealed repeatedly to protestors to leave the grounds and have begun evicting people from the precinct,  Parnell says

"While police acknowledge people’s right to protest, this needs to be conducted in a way that does not unfairly impact on the wider public,"

Three people were arrested yesterday after trying to break through police barricades in front of the Beehive.

More than 100 extra police officers have been called in today, some from other districts.

Police are warning members of the public to expect traffic delays and they have been asked to avoid the area if possible.