Protests at Auckland Domain despite lockdown ending. Will Brian Tamaki show?
Protesters are gathering at Auckland Domain this morning for the sixth time since the beginning of October.
This is the first time people have congregated to object to the vaccine mandate since Aucklanders got their freedom yesterday.
The crowd so far is markedly down on previous protests, last week excepting, but there are still about 1000 people gathered.
Strict lockdown preventing hospitality from opening ended yesterday after 107 days in the city of 1.7 million people.
Today’s rally has been promoted as the “Mass Exodus” online and the protesters began meeting at Auckland Domain at 11ambefore a march through the streets of Newmarket.
Last Saturday, a smaller group of around 200 to 300 people gathered in the Domain and marched to the Mercy Hospital in Epsom.
But this group was not directly aligned with the Freedoms & Rights Coalition, which has ties to Destiny Church and has seen up to 5000 people gather at Auckland Domain.
Online promotion has indicated that the Freedoms & Rights Coalition has again organised today’s protest.
For the third time in less than two months, controversial Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki was called before a judge on November 23 regarding new allegations he violated Covid-19 lockdown orders.
However, he was allowed to remain on bail with altered bail conditions that bar him explicitly from attending protests at Auckland Domain.
Auckland District Court Judge Steve Bonnar QC, clearly showing frustration, issued the decision hours after Brian Tamaki was summoned to an Auckland police station alongside wife and church co-founder Hannah Tamaki.
“You have been skating on very thin ice today,” the judge said. “I have seriously considered whether you should be remanded in custody.”
The anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate protesters have previously met in Auckland Domain on October2, 16 and 30 and November 20 and 27.
Except for last Saturday, each time they drew between 2000 and 5000 people.
Yesterday, 39,553 New Zealanders were administered a Covid-19 vaccine.
Both Brian and Hannah Tamaki appeared and spoke on stage at the November 20 Domain protest to recognise the workers who had lost their jobs for refusing to be vaccinated.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum has been closed the last two Saturday’s due to the protests.
It is unclear if the Museum will be closed today, but a statement last week said they would be on all days of mass protest on the grounds outside their door.
“In line with its recently developed Covid-19 policy, the Museum will close to the public on days of mass demonstration in Auckland Domain,” a Museum spokesperson said.
“The Domain has been the site of regular large protest activities throughout lockdown, with rallies occurring directly outside the Museum. Large numbers of people attend these events, often without face masks, and do not adhere to social distancing requirements.”
On November 13, the Freedoms & Rights Coalition orchestrated a “Great Gridlock” protest which attempted to block Auckland’s highways with a motorcade of slow-moving vehicles. Traffic was delayed on Auckland highways for a few hours as a result.
Brian Tamaki was first called to court on October 12, accused of helping to organise and promote an October 2 lockdown protest at the same location.
He was granted bail by Judge Broke Gibson, but under the conditions he not “organise or attend any protests in breach of any Covid-19 level requirement” and not “use the internet for the purpose of organising, attending or encouraging non-compliance with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020”.
However, he issued a statement just hours later promoting a follow-up protest at the same spot the next weekend. He returned to court about one week later, after attending the October 16 protest.
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