Howl of a protest: Tractors and utes to descend on cities as farmers protest
Trucks, utes and even dogs will descend on city centres around the country today, as farmers take part in a huge protest.
The Howl of a Protest event, organised by Groundswell New Zealand, will see thousands of farm vehicles rumbling through cities in protest against what farmers say is increasing interference from the Government, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs.
The protests are taking place in 55 cities starting from Kaitaia to Southland.
In Auckland, up to 50 tractors and utes are expected to take part in a convoy starting from Drury, on the Southern Motorway, at 9.20am.
The convoy will be escorted by police as farmers head towards the Auckland CBD, where they are set to head down Queen St by the early afternoon.
It will leave the motorway at Wellesley St, travel down Queen St before going along Beach Rd and rejoining the motorway heading south from Stanley St.
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A police spokeswoman said authorities were aware of the plans for protest action today.
“Police recognise and respect the lawful right to protest and our aim is to ensure that both the participants and the community are safe.
Police will monitor the activities to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”
People have been encouraged to bring their tractor, ute and dogs for a bark-up.
Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie, from West Otago, is expecting an “enormous” response to the nationwide event.
The only major city that had left off the itinerary, and that was intentional, was Wellington.
McKenzie was expecting a huge number of tractors in Auckland’s Queen St today.
The logistics were different in the various areas, with some towns requiring traffic management plans, he said.
Bright said a number of vegetable growers would be donating three tonnes of vegetables to the City Mission.
'We're fed up'
The Herald understands a protest planned for Christchurch has been moved out of Cathedral Square as organisers were expecting a large number of participants.
Some protesters have been diverted to other Canterbury towns.
Christchurch organiser Aaron Stark told John MacDonald on NewstalkZB their main concerns are around constant changes to regulations and the “moving of goal posts”.
“We’re fed up to be honest. Every farmer I know around here, around Canterbury, we’re having the talk that maybe it’s time to hang up the boots and find something else to do.
“It’s getting to a point where we can’t do it.”
The Otago Daily Times reports that in Dunedin, organisers have decided it would not be safe for the protest to stop in the city so participants will drive through the Octagon, between about noon and 12.15pm, their dogs barking.
They will then return to Mosgiel where former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison would give a short address and Groundswell NZ’s statement on how it sees things would be delivered.
Even though protest vehicles would be keeping left and letting other traffic flow as smoothly as possible, there would still be significant disruption to the travelling public around Dunedin and Balclutha and more time should be left to get to destinations.
In Levin, tradies and farmers are planning to drive their utes and tractors down Oxford St.
The local protest group is planning to meet at Donnelly Park at 11am. The convoy would then leave for a drive through Oxford St at noon.
Hundreds of farmers, growers and tradies are expected to take to the streets around Northland.
Protests in Whangārei, Dargaville, Kerikeri and Kaitaia are due to start around the country at 11am.
Whangārei co-ordinator Tracey Thomasson said she expected up to 200 vehicles.
In Dannevirke, the protest kicks off on High St around 12.15pm.
The parade of tractors, trucks, vehicles and people walking will start from the old Farmers Transport south of town and the Mangatera Hotel north of town.
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