Story by Tūmamao Harawira and Will Trafford
Up to 3000 lockdown protesters and anti-vaxxers have descended on the steps of the War Memorial Museum in Auckland’s Domain.
The group can be heard chanting 'Freedom!' and singing the national anthem. It is made up of 'everyone from whole whānau, to gang members on Harleys’, according to a reporter on the scene.
The protests were coordinated by Brian and Hannah Tamaki of Destiny Church under the moniker ‘Freedom & Rights Coalition’.
The crowd are carrying signs attacking Auckland's level 3 lockdown and the government's initiative to vaccinate as many people as possible.
One read "#FreeToGather" another saying "Lockdowns are Immoral".
At 11:15 Brian Tamaki addressed the crowds on a stage in front of the cenotaph "we are taking back our country" he said.
"We are facing a Government we thought we could trust. Instead they are stripping away the freedoms and rights of everyday Kiwis."
Above: Anti-lockdown Protestors gather at Tāmaki's War Memorial Museum Video / Tūmamao Harawira
Te Ao Māori News’ Tūmamao Harawira reports that while police are on the scene, the protests had so far been peaceful.
Some are ignoring the government’s mask mandate, however, ‘the majority of people are adhering to the rules,’ he says.
Tamaki was wearing a face covering but periodically took it off to address the crowd.
He claimed the government had "run out of ideas" and that Aucklanders had been in "home detention" for 50 days.
"That's what they give to prisoners. We've all gone to prison," he said.
Protestors gather at the Auckland War Memorial Museum Photo / Tūmamao Harawira
Gatherings of 10 people or more are banned under alert level 3 and police commissioner Andrew Coster has already warned the protestors risk a “police enforcement response.”
Yesterday, Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson appealed to Tamaki to cancel the protests in Auckland and Christchurch, saying they put whānau at risk.
“He listened to the concerns of police and the government but refused to call off tomorrow’s protests," Jackson said.
"He did promise that there’d be no trouble and we believe him.”
Above: 'Harleys and Hannah' - Destiny Church Leader Speaks at Lockdown Protests Video / Tūmamao Harawira
Today's protest follows a digital campaign earlier this week where anti-vaxxers swamped live streams of the government's 1 pm Media Briefing with anti-vaccination messages.
The group coordinated efforts through encrypted messaging platforms WhatsApp and Telegram.
The campaign was successful requiring NZ Herald and state broadcaster TVNZ to remove their live stream broadcasts from Facebook.