Police this morning set up concrete barriers on the main roads around the perimeter of Parliament, in a bid to contain protest activity in Wellington’s CBD. Staff began installing the barriers at eight locations at 3:30 a.m.
The operation involved around 300 people and large-scale equipment.
Police say the barriers will allow them to prevent further vehicle growth in the protest area and maintain access for residents, businesses and emergency vehicles.
A handful of protesters were arrested while the barriers were being erected. However, police said there had been little disruption.
Several road closures and detours are now in place for vehicular traffic near Parliament.
The locations of the barriers are:
• Back end of the Houses of Parliament on Ballantrae Place
• Molesworth Street near Pipitea Street
• Murphy Street and Aitken Street
•Kate Sheppard Square
• Bunny Street near the station
• On the corner of Whitmore St and Lambton Quay at the bottom of Bowen Street
• Lambton Quay and Mulgrave Street
Pedestrians will still be able to enter and exit the area. Police officers will be posted at each roadblock to facilitate legitimate vehicle access. Protesters’ vehicles will be allowed to leave the area but may not re-enter.
— Wakefield Abbey (@Beywake) February 20, 2022
Much less cars right now, protesters are basically stuck, police on the move. It’s the safest I’ve felt walking to work all week. pic.twitter.com/KSmnTfXRoH
— mikeforbes! (@mikeforbes) February 20, 2022
Anyone who abuses or bullies members of the public can expect to be arrested, fired and face charges. Police will continue to work with key protest leaders to resolve any issues.
Earlier: Police aim to bring protest back to Parliament building
RNZ reports that Wellington Regional Council Chairman Daran Ponter hailed the police operation to put a perimeter around the protest. “The advantage for public transport is certainly that the main arteries, which our buses use at peak times, are open and functioning well.” He said the Lambton Interchange had been cleared.
Daran Ponter says protesters abused council staff at work. He said a bus driver was spat on and the matter referred to the police. Ponter said the number of pedestrians in the city center had dropped as many Wellington residents did not want to confront the protesters.