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Mayors call for end to anti-mandate protest

Protesters sheltering from the rain on parliamentary grounds on February 12. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

Grace Prior

All three Wairarapa mayors have signed a joint statement from Wellington leaders calling for the immediate end to the parliament protests.

The leaders said in the statement that there was a right to peaceful protest in New Zealand that it is important to uphold.

“However, this protest has gone well beyond that point.”

They said people who lived, worked, and attended school and university in the area were subjected to significant levels of abuse and harassment when attempting to move about in the area.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said the Wellington region worked closely together – and what was good for Wellington, was good for Wairarapa.

“Anything that affects Wellington will affect us.”

He said Wairarapa relied on Wellington for more than just tourism – and the protest will be affecting Wairarapa residents who commute to the capital for work.

For example, if it was harder to access Wairarapa with the Wellington train station being close to the protest, many people wouldn’t make the trip.

In their statement, the leaders said there had been intimidation to Wellington people and city workers, with some residents reporting being too frightened or distressed to leave their homes, and businesses closing to protect their staff.

The leaders said vehicles associated with the protest were illegally blocking roads, preventing Wellington people moving freely across the city

“The people of Wellington have had enough of this illegal activity, harassment and disruption, we ask that it end immediately.”

Victoria University of Wellington closed its Pipitea campus near the train station, disrupting teaching and learning.

The leaders said they wanted to remind the protesters that Wellington people had the right to access the city freely and without fear.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said he had no further comment to add to the statement.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson was unavailable for comment.

Police have been installing concrete barriers at key roads to contain protest activity.

RNZ reported this resulted in a standoff with protesters, leading to “a handful” of arrests.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said police remain committed to a “de-escalation approach” to the protest.

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