Recap of 1News’ live updates on the protest at Parliament, which escalated into extraordinary violence as police cleared protests from the grounds.
What you need to know
– Hundreds of police have spent the day clearing the protest at Parliament and surrounding streets
– Dozens of arrests have been made
– Fires started in Parliament’s grounds as police in riot gear moved in in force late in the afternoon
– Paint and rocks were thrown at police, pepper spray and hoses were turned on protesters
– PM Jacinda Ardern said she was angered by the protesters’ behaviour
Updates, as they happened:
8.40pm: In case you missed it, here’s our coverage of the day’s events on 1News at 6pm.
9.40pm: Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, has thanked police ,Parliamentary Security, Buildings and Facilities, Health and Safety teams and all other staff for their “continued effort to keep everyone at Parliament and the surrounding areas safe, after protesters were shifted from the site on Wednesday”.
“Their resilience and understanding, along with all of you who have been affected by this protest must be acknowledged and thanks given for everyone’s hard work and messages of support.”
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard said in a statement late Wednesday that Parliament’s grounds will be closed until further notice following protest action over the past three weeks.
“A recovery plan for the grounds has been developed which includes working with mana whenua and coordinating offers of assistance from volunteer groups. Due to assessments of the grounds’ condition that must take place before that work can begin, and for health, safety, and sanitary reasons, I ask that all members of the public please stay away till advised otherwise.
“More information about the recovery plan for Parliament’s grounds will be released when it becomes available. We will restore our beautiful grounds and I will keep you informed of developments,” Mallard said.
7.51pm: Dinner has been sorted for those who have been on the ground today.
7.40pm: Police in riot gear and around 150-200 protestors are still facing off at the intersection of Lambton Quay and Bunny Street this evening.
The occasional object is being thrown and we’ve seen stones being collected to use as missiles.
One reporter said the atmosphere is still tense and volatile but more subdued than earlier this evening.
7.33pm: 1News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says a “high” police presence is expected overnight around Parliament despite many protesters having since left.
“We’ve already seen several security measures put in place,” Mutch-McKay said on Seven Sharp.
7.28pm: There are only a small number of protesters left at the intersection of Whitmore St and Lambton Quay.
7.09pm: As the pre-planned operation in Wellington continues this evening, Police are urging people to stay away from the central business district near the Railway Station, the Victoria University Pipitea campus, and northern end of Lambton Quay.
7.03pm: Clean-up has begun at Parliament grounds with both police and fire and emergency staff on hand to pick up tents, portaloos and other bits of debris left behind.
6.44pm: M?ori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi’s response:
6.42pm: Police are engaged in a stand-off with around 150 protestors on the corner of Bunny Street and Featherston Street in front of Wellington’s main train station.
Protestors are about 30m from the Police line.
6.38pm: MetLink says all trains in and out of Wellington are suspended tonight from 6.45pm.
“Due to operational safety requirements we will be suspending all train operations tonight from 6:45pm onwards.”
Trains departing Wellington before 6:45pm and trains currently en route to Wellington will complete their trips.
6.29pm: Approximately six lines of police have formed on Lambton Quay as they have pushed protesters back to the nearby bus terminal for what appears to be the final “standoff”, 1News reporter Cushla Norman says.
Other areas appear to now be under control.
6.12pm: For a full report on the Prime Minister’s address at 5:30pm, read here: PM saddened to see Parliament ‘desecrated’ by protest violence
6.07pm: Police say they have now cleared Molesworth Street of all protester vehicles that had previously been blocking the street.
There have been 65 arrests today for a range of offences including trespass, willful damage, and possession of restricted weapons.
Up to 50 vehicles have been towed and approximately another 30 departed.
Police added three officers are being treated in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
6.02pm: Police now driving protestors away from Bowen Street, with flash bangs being used to dissuade those attempting to stay.
5.57pm: Police are making a move along Bowen St as another large wave of officers has come out to assist.
5.55pm: Loud explosions are being heard on the corner of Bowen and Lambton Quay.
5.53pm: A fresh line of police in riot gear is heading out to assist the situation.
5.51pm: Police are now retreating down Lambton Quay across Bowen Street as rock throwing protesters are charging police lines.
5.49pm: The Greens have also released a statement on today’s events.
“We are deeply saddened by what has happened at Parliament today. Parliament belongs to the people of New Zealand. It is a place where people can come to have their voices heard, to meet their MPs, or just to have their lunch on the front lawn and play with their kids on the playground. We must do everything we can to keep it that way,” co-leader Marama Davidson said.
“We know people will have lots of questions about what has happened today – and the time will come for these questions to be asked and answers sought. But right now our focus needs to be on everyone’s safety and health and moving forward together. Now more than ever, we need to do everything we can to take care of each other and build resilient communities.”
5.45pm: Protestors continue to throw rocks and paving stones at police inside Parliament grounds and also police lined along Lambton Quay and Bowen St corner.
Hoses are being used to keep the protestors at bay.
Commuters are quietly watching on from across the other side of Lambton Quay, about 30 metres away.
5.41pm: Ardern said there is work to do in addressing the level of misinformation that has led to today’s violence.
“As we go through a process of accessing what is it that has allowed the growth of misinformation in this country and how do we address that, we will be at pains to ensure that it never becomes an excuse for the violent acts that have happened.”
Ardern added there was “foreign influence” involved in the misinformation.
5.40pm: Ardern’s conference has finished.
5.34pm: Ardern says she was “angry and deeply saddened” to see fire on the Parliament grounds.
“To see your Parliament, our Parliament desecrated in that way and a children’s playground destroyed by a small group of illegal protesters made me feel angry and deeply sad.
“But as I say, it is not something that will define New Zealand’s response to this pandemic.”
5.32pm: Ardern said those involved in today’s events will “never, ever” be excused for it.
“It was an attack on our frontline police. It was an attack on our parliament. It was an attack on our values and it was wrong.”
5.30pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking.
5.29pm: Police in heavier protective gear are moving in to take over the frontline. The gear includes protective coverings for limbs and helmets.
5.25pm: Former police negotiator Lance Burdett says New Zealand needs to “learn” from today’s events.
“There’s no way back from force except more force,” he said.
“It’d be great to say ‘let’s all stop and take a deep breath’ but it’s gone away from that.”
5.16pm: National Party leader Christopher Luxon has released a short statement on today’s events.
“What we’ve seen outside Parliament today has been shocking and distressing. There is no justification for such abhorrent behaviour,” Luxon said.
“We are extremely grateful to our outstanding frontline police officers for selflessly keeping the public safe in this dangerous and unpredictable situation.”
5.05pm: Police officers have been seen carrying an injured colleague away from the frontline.
5.00pm: Projectiles, including bricks taken from nearby paths, continue to be thrown at police who are using riot shields to protect themselves as they retreat.
4.51pm: In a statement, Police say the “deliberately lit” fires are now contained. There were no reports of injuries.
4.45pm: The Prime Minister will be hold a press conference at 5:30pm this afternoon.
4.42pm: Other politicians have spoken about the situation on social media.
4.37pm: ACT leader David Seymour has called today’s events “a sad day for New Zealand”.
“It’s important that law breakers are held accountable but so are officials, such as the Speaker for role making bad situation even worse,” Seymour said.
4.34pm: Another fire has been lit on Parliament Grounds. Fire crews have quickly arrived at the scene to put it out.
4.27pm: Protestors have been cleared from Parliament’s grounds and the fires now appear to be extinguished. Police are moving quickly to remove other encampment equipment, tents and signs.
Police on Molesworth Street are now moving rapidly and nearly at Lambton Quay with no sign of protestor opposition.
4.22pm: The fires are big enough that they can be seen from the other side of Wellington Harbour.
4.12pm: A number of fire crews are in Parliament’s grounds trying to extinguish the fires as a line of police can be seen moving further into the protesters’ camp.
4.05pm: There are now multiple fires on the lawn as officers can be seen dragging fences and tents away from the area.
4.04pm: Police in riot gear are again advancing further into the protester camp as protesters throw objects them.
4.03pm: One protester doing a live feed has encouraged people to fall back and head to the Wellington Train Station.
4.00pm: In live feeds, protesters are claiming that police pushed over a generator onto a tent, causing the fire.
3.56pm: Firefighters are now also at the scene trying to extinguish the fire.
3.55pm: The police helicopter is also back in the air as multiple protesters can now be seen packing up and leaving encampments and Parliament grounds carrying their belongings with them.
3.52pm: It appears as if there is now a number of fires in protester camp, with some lighting tents on fire. One of those appears to have resulted in Parliament’s playground catching alight.
3.50pm: It appears that police officers are trying to extinguish the fire with a number of hoses.
3.45pm: Explosions are being reported from people in the area.
3.40pm: Flames can now be seen in the middle of the protest camp. Protesters are throwing items on to the fire.
3.32pm: Protesters can again be seen picking up random items and throwing them at officers. They are also using fire extinguishers to spray frontline officers.
Police have large trucks above Parliament where encampment debris is being collected for dumping.
Protesters are expected to pour out on to the Lambton Quay-end of Parliament as grounds are cleared.
3.30pm: Police now appear to have halted their advance. A number of protesters continue to film as other officers continue to dismantle tents.
3.29pm: Leighton Baker has reportedly been arrested at the protest.
3.25pm: Police in riot gear are now pushing protesters back, while other officers are moving in behind them and taking away tents. Protesters away from the officers can be seen filming the police advance on their phones.
3.20pm: Police are aggressively ripping out tents with minor scuffles between police in riot gear and protesters.
3.10pm: Police now moving quite fast down Molesworth St as protester ranks thin and they begin to retreat.
Protesters are throwing anything they can get their hands on at police; chairs, road cones, boxes and also seeing fire extinguishers being sprayed at frontline police.
3.05pm: “Very early on this tipped from being a protest, which we frequently see here at Parliament, it tipped from a protest into an illegal occupation using violent tactics and threats including to children and school children quite early on,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“I have no qualms telling them they need to leave.”
3.03pm: Protesters are again using fire extinguishers as they battle police, who are using riot shields to advance.
2.59pm: Significant development as police with helmets and shields are now inside Parliament grounds and moving to clear tents.
Clear shots can be seen of supply tents being dismantled on Parliament grounds just below rose garden in northern boundary of Parliament.
Protesters are putting up opposition and are now battling on two fronts.
They are still trying to prevent police from slowly moving down Molesworth Street as protestors with linked arms form a human wall.
Many protesters are showing signs of being pepper sprayed and are having their faces doused in milk.
People are advised to avoid the area.
2.37pm: Police hold the same position as they clear Aitken and Hill streets, tow trucks are continuing to protester’s tow vehicles.
1.55pm: Revisiting Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s stand-up from earlier. His full statement released just before 1.30pm reveals more of the offences protesters have been arrested for.
They include wilful damage, assaults police, possession of a weapon and refusing to provide identifying details.
Coster earlier said today’s operation was brought on due to “an escalation in concerning behaviour” from those still present in Wellington.
1.32pm: Speaking at a media conference, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says he does not have further numbers on the number of protesters who have tested positive for Covid-19.
Asked about Covid-positive protesters reportedly returning to Parliament grounds, Hipkins said they should “go home, isolate and get better”.
Seventeen Covid-19 cases had been linked to the protest as of February 28.
1.10pm: There are 22,152 new community Covid-19 cases today, the Ministry of Health has announced.
1pm: Police hold the same position as they clear Aitken and Hill streets.
Protesters inside the line have cleared the kitchen tent and plumbing infrastructure, but cars have been moved back to strengthen the vehicle barrier at the bottom of Molesworth and Lambton Quay.
With some of the toilets removed, the few portaloos that remain are in popular demand.
12.35pm: 1News has received the following comment from the Human Rights Commission: “As we announced on February 22, 2022, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has been leading a multistage conciliation process involving discussions with protesters, mana whenua, police and a range of stakeholders in an effort to de-escalate the situation at Parliament.
“In light of that, the Commission is monitoring today’s turn of events. As an independent national human rights institution, we are concerned that the human rights and responsibilities of all affected people including protesters, police and local residents are upheld. The chief commissioner will also endeavour to continue the current conciliation process.”
12.23pm: This update came in from the team in Wellington just before the media conference with Coster:
Currently protesters are holding police at bay on Molesworth St alongside Kate Sheppard Place.
A line of protesters at least three deep is stretched across Molesworth St while police in helmets and shields push against them, making incremental gains.
Protesters are being aided by cars parked across Molesworth St but cars parked behind are being moved now by protesters. Once past this line of cars police would expect to make faster progress.
Police continue to move portaloos with a heavy duty forklift while cars further up Molesworth are being put aboard large car transporters and taken from the scene.
Sandwiches continue to be handed out among the protesters.
The trampoline on Hill St has also been removed.
12.16pm: The media conference ended a few minutes ago. Here’s the last of what was covered.
Coster reflected the protest had tipped out of balance.
He confirmed paint and fire extinguishers had been used on police and that pepper spray had been used in response.
Coster said the operation was a hint to protesters to take their belongings and leave.
The police helicopter from Auckland had provided “excellent intelligence” on what was happening on the ground. It was “incredibly dangerous” a laser had been pointed at it, he said.
12.05pm: Police earlier said around 60 arrests had been made. Coster said 36 arrests had been confirmed. They had been for wilful trespass to obstruction.
Around 15 vehicles had been towed.
Coster confirmed three officers had been injured. Two of the officers had received abrasions while the third had paint thrown in their face.
12pm: Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is speaking at a media conference.
He said this morning’s operation is focused on clearing roads and restoring order.
“Significant planning” has gone into this and “several hundred” officers are involved.
His message to those who don’t want to get caught up in the operation is “please go home”.
Coster said there had been a change in the mix of the makeup of the crowd. Peaceful protesters had been outnumbered by those willing to use violence.
“This has never been about preventing lawful protest. This particular protest, though, has reached a stage where the harm being done far outweighs any legitimate protest.”
11.29am: 1News received the following response to a question on whether the hospital was planning for an influx of patients from the protest: “Both Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast DHBs have planning in place to manage any influx of people requiring emergency care, and are in contact with the NZ Police.”
11.22am: A 1News camera operator has filed some more photos of the protest. You can find some of them below.
He also gave the following picture of the protest at the moment:
Inside the protesters’ camp, the kitchen has been described as being in the middle of feeding people and packing down, while a number of milk bottles are at the ready.
The protest line along Molesworth St is holding, 20-30m from apartments on Kate Sheppard Place. Protesters are moving some vehicles there, while sandwiches are being handed out to those holding the line.
The gardens have been described as quiet, while the sound of the police helicopter above is constant.
A forklift continues to clear obstructions.
10.45am: In a statement just after 10.40am police say at least three officers have been injured in the protest today.
“A large number of Police staff from around the country and within Wellington District have been deployed for this morning’s operation, which commenced about 6am.
“Police were disappointed to see protesters in possession of various weapons this morning.
“These included, but were not limited to, the use fire extinguishers as weapons, a cord set up as a trip wire, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks.
“A laser was also pointed at the Police helicopter, which is in Wellington to assist the operation.
“Protesters have repeatedly been reminded that Parliament grounds are closed, and that remaining there means they are trespassing.
“Police are pleased with the number of people and vehicles that have voluntarily left the protest area this morning, and we will continue to work with partner agencies to assist us with the safe movement of people, including helping them get their vehicles out safely if they wish to do so.
“Police want to reiterate this is not an appropriate place for children and we are working with staff from Oranga Tamariki.”
10.41am: A 1News camera operator has taken an array of photos at the protest this morning. You can view them here.
10.14am: Another update from police via Twitter: Around 60 people have now been arrested in relation to this morning’s operation at Parliament grounds.
Police continue to tow vehicles that are parked illegally. We have commenced towing larger vehicles, which includes trucks, vans and campervans.
We will continue to work with partner agencies to assist us with the safe movement of people, including helping them get their vehicles out safely if they wish to do so.
10.07am: Around 50 police with shields and helmets have reinforced a police front line which is at a stand-off with protesters on Molesworth St, outside Parliament’s grounds.
Protesters have rallied around parked cars and a caravan parked outside the Court of Appeal and are engaged in an ongoing shoving match.
Further up Molesworth St a large fork lift is slowly progressing, flanked by large numbers of more police reinforcements. Behind that, police are towing parked cars belonging to protesters and loading them on to trucks.
This police operation began at 6am this morning and so far has cleared protesters encampments along Hill St, from the Cathedral of St Paul’s grounds and along Aitken St, which runs between the Court of Appeal and the National Library.
Police are maintaining a strong presence on Parliament’s grounds but so far no efforts have been made to remove protesters and their encampments there.
9.46am: Police have put out the following update on Twitter: Police have seen at least 10 children within the protest area in Wellington and have concerns for their wellbeing.
Police want to reiterate this is not an appropriate place for children and we continue to urge those with young ones to pack up and go home.
We are working with Oranga Tamariki staff in this morning’s operation.
Our staff are ready to assist those who wish to leave, including helping them get their vehicles out safely.
9.36am: The Human Rights Commission says it is monitoring the police operation at Parliament this morning.
“We are concerned about potential for injury and harm and urge all parties to exercise the utmost restraint,” it said on Twitter.
“We continue to encourage peaceful dialogue towards conciliation and resolution.”
9.09am: Protesters on Molesworth St continue to be treated with milk to counter effects of pepper spray.
Two first aid tents are full of protesters being treated on the corner of Molesworth St and Kate Shepherd Place. Drains running down Molesworth St are full of milk and water.
1News is seeing police reinforcements gathering at the top of Molesworth St while the front line is slowly making progress towards gates into Parliament opposite Kate Shepherd Place.
The protesters’ former kitchen tent on Molesworth St has been removed by protesters. More established infrastructure is being saved by protesters and taken from the scene of this police operation.
The police operation is into its fourth hour.
9am: Police have given the following update on Twitter: Police can confirm around 20 arrests have been made so far this morning as part of the pre-planned operation in central Wellington.
Police have also begun towing vehicles.
We are once again urging people inside the protest area to leave now.
Our staff are ready to assist those who wish to leave.
Wellingtonians are urged to avoid the area this morning.
8.43am: A further update from police: Police have gained significant ground this morning in the operation to restore lawful protest at Parliament grounds.
We continue to urge those wishing to leave to let our staff know.
We will work to facilitate their safe exit from the area.
Protesters have been reminded that Parliament grounds are closed, and that they are trespassing.
8.32am: More of the white, cloudy substance has been thrown at police officers. One officer’s helmet was covered in it. A handful of officers were being seen by paramedics. One of them was having their eyes flushed with water.
On Molesworth St, a number of protesters have been affected by pepper spray. Milk is covering the ground in places.
A policewoman on a loud speaker says the roads around Parliament are closed and for protesters to leave the area.
The police helicopter continues to be heard overhead.
8.19am: Police continue to slowly move down Molesworth St taking down protesters tents.
Media have been pushed up Molesworth St to Pipitea St, well away from the main confrontation area with protesters.
Protesters’ live stream on Facebook shows police dismantling tents on Molesworth St as they move south towards the harbour.
It appears the police operation has been effective so far in clearing protesters encampments on Hill St, Aitken St and now Molesworth St.
Encampments are still in place on Lambton Quay but police are moving in that direction.
There is no sign of an end to this operation as it moves into its third hour.
8.04am: A horn could be heard being sounded a few minutes ago, while a group of protesters shouting “hold the line” surrounded some officers who were inside a marquee.
Another marquee could be seen being dragged away by officers. There appears to be a pile of chairs, tents, marquees, and their contents being collected by police near Aitken St.
7.54am: Police have put out the following in a tweet: Police staff in and around the Wellington protest area have sighted protesters in possession of various weapons. These include homemade plywood shields and pitchforks.
Protesters have also been pointing a laser at the police helicopter.
No arrests have been made.
7.46am: Parliamentary staff are being advised to stay away from work today at the request of police. They are being asked to not go into the Parliamentary precinct until the police operation is over.
7.40am: There is heightened security at Parliament today as the police operation extends well into a second hour.
Protesters are firing fire extinguishers at police at the southern end of Parliament on Lambton Quay while Police respond with pepper spray. Angry protesters are confronting police down Molesworth St.
Police with riot helmets are outside the Parliamentary library above the Rose Garden in a stand-off with protesters. Police are massed in a line along the front of parliament’s forecourt.
Rain is falling now in Wellington.
7.35am: Yet another update from police: The police operation to restore access to the area around Parliament is progressing as planned.
Police are pleased to see a number of vehicles preparing to leave the protest area.
7.30am: A few minutes ago a small group of protesters clashed with some police officers. A white, cloudy substance was sprayed towards officers. It may be from some kind of fire extinguisher.
7.19am: Another update from police: Police are urging people inside the Wellington protest area to leave now.
Our staff are ready to assist those who wish to leave, including helping them get their vehicles out safely.
7.17am: National leader Christopher Luxon has just appeared on Breakfast. He said he came into Parliament just after 5am and realised there was a building police presence.
In the background of the interview, a police officer over a loudspeaker could be heard every now and again.
Asked if it was time to shut the protest down, Luxon replied: “Yes, I think it is.”
“At some point it has to come to an end.”
Asked if the protest should have come to an end earlier, he said: “This is a police operation … Government has no influence on police … This is a police matter.”
7.03am: A further update from police: This morning’s operation involves a significant number of police staff from around New Zealand.
We are working with partner agencies to assist us with the safe movement of people.
People in Wellington are advised to please avoid the area this morning.
6.58am: On Parliament grounds itself, the national anthem can be heard under the shouts of protesters and the police over the loudspeaker.
There appears to only be a handful of officers on the forecourt.
6.52am: Police marching up Molesworth St have joined with ranks coming down the same street and those marching down Hill St.
Policed are now pushing around 100 protesters down Molesworth St in front of Parliament. Police are using shields and making progress despite some resistance.
Pepper spray is now being used on protesters. A woman with milk is tending to those affected.
6.51am: This update from police a few minutes ago: The purpose of this morning’s operation is to restore order and access to the area around Parliament.
A police helicopter is in Wellington to assist.
6.47am: A female police officer can be heard saying: “This is the police. Parliament grounds are closed, please leave.”
Police are reported to be closing in on Hill St. Protesters are falling back. “Shame on you!” one woman could be heard screaming.
6.44am: The police operation in Wellington is now centred at the intersection of Molesworth, Hill and Aitken streets, right next to the Court of Appeal.
Police have encircled the portaloos used by protesters at this intersection.
Police have also moved into the grounds of the Cathedral of St Paul and are removing protesters tents.
Protesters are yelling and screaming at the police and arrests are being made.
One female protester has been knocked to the ground as police and protesters confront each other.
As noted earlier, a loud megaphone message is advising protesters to leave immediately or face arrest.
6.40am: Police over a loudspeaker could be heard telling the occupiers of Aitken St it has been closed under the Police Act.
Our cameras caught a protester crying on the ground as they lent against a car.
“Move, move, move” can be heard intermittently.
Protesters are being told to leave the area immediately. The officer on the loudspeaker said failure to comply may result in arrest.
6.38am: A further update from police has come in: Commuters into the northern part of Wellington City are advised to plan for further traffic disruption around the protest area.
Hill St is closed and people are asked to avoid the area this morning.
6.33am: Police ranks are now moving up Molesworth St towards the intersection with Hill St. They are moving around outside of the protest site.
Many early commuters are watching on bemusedly as this large-scale police operation takes place in central Wellington. It’s very close to the main railway station, where thousands are beginning to arrive in the city for the day. A helicopter is still flying overhead.
The number two bus to Karori appears to be running on time.
Protesters appeared well aware an operation was taking place this morning after reports new bollards had been moved in to position last evening.
6am: Police have boosted their numbers on the ground at Parliament on Wednesday morning with the anti-mandate protest now in its 23rd day.
The move has put protesters on alert.
1News understands police intend to move the main protest area today.
Concrete bollards were brought in to the area over night.