Covid 19 anti vaccine mandate protests in Christchurch, Picton, Auckland: Destiny Church and tattoo fundraising as more than 1000 march

A protest of around 1000 people in Christchurch led by Destiny’s Church is among several separate anti-mandate gatherings popping up around the country today in addition to the protest outside Parliament in Wellington.

Pockets of protesters have arisen in Auckland Domain, Cranmer Square in Christchurch and at Picton’s Nelson Square.

The Christchurch protest has been organised by the Destiny Church aligned Freedoms and Rights Coalition that was responsible for the numerous protests in the Auckland Domain throughout November and December last year.

Today, a group of around 1000 people, many of whom were already camping in Cranmer Square, have marched to Riverside Market, blocking roads and creating some altercations with other members of the public.

Footage and images of the protest online show a cavalcade of motorbikes ridden by protesters draped in Destiny’s Church paraphernalia, people getting tattoos and loud music being played.

There is little obvious police presence in Cranmer Square.

On Thursday, Christchurch Council infrastructure and regulatory general manager Jane Davis said they were closely monitoring the protest action in Cranmer Square but were limited in what they could do to move people on.

“Camping in Cranmer Square is not permitted under our Parks and Reserves Bylaw but that bylaw was not designed for protests of this nature,” Davis said.

“We have been speaking with the police regularly about the activities occurring in Cranmer Square and we have an open line of communication with the protesters.

“We understand residents living around Cranmer Square are frustrated by the continued protest activity in their neighbourhood. The protest action has so far been peaceful and those taking part have given us assurances they will be respectful of neighbouring residents.”

The carnival-esque atmosphere seen outside Parliament in Wellington seems to have been somewhat replicated in Cranmer Square where music was blaring this morning over a loudspeaker.

A local Christchurch tattoo studio has also set up in Cranmer Square offering tattoos for a donation that would go back into sustaining the campers in the public park.

A woman pictured in the Facebook post form Black Thorn Studio can be seen getting “Freedom” tattooed on her forehead.

“Tattooing at the mandate protest in Cranmer Square not for profit donation back to the camp!” Black Thorn Studio posted.

“So sad to hear everyone’s stories on how this has affected them, I’m so glad I have an amazing team so we could have done this none of it would be possible without them.”

Tattooing at the mandate protest in Cranmer Square not for profit donation back to the camp!So sad to hear everyone’s…

Many large New Zealand flags can be seen scattered through the Cranmer Square protest crowd.

Portaloos have also been delivered to the campers at Cranmer Square, and one person documented their arrival on Facebook, posting “learning from Wellington”.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she had to respect people’s right to protest and to express their views.

“It is when protest action has a significant impact on other people’s rights that further action may be required. This is why we are working so closely with police,” Dalziel said.

The same Freedom and Rights coalition is helping orchestrate entertainment tonight at the Wellington Parliamentary protest, which is into its second week.

The Rhythm & Rights Live Concert will begin outside Parliament at 4pm today with local bands performing.

In Picton, anti-mandate protesters continue to occupy Nelson square after being handed trespass notices by police and council parks staff on Thursday morning.

Marlborough District Council said the trespass notice allowed enforcement action to be undertaken from 10am Friday, but protesters still litter Nelson Square today.

The Picton Convoy Camp 22 Facebook page has announced private boats are sailing back and forth between Wellington and Picton to help get more people to each protest.

In footage of a private yacht leaving Picton wharf a man describes how: “it’s already taken a load over of people and it’s coming back again later today and be sailing again, and there’s other boats that are coming to do the same thing”.

A small group of protesters also gathered in Auckland Domain this morning, but have since disbanded.

The Domain was the site for more than half a dozen large-scale protests organised by the Destiny Church Freedoms and Rights Coalition that attracted 2000 to 5000 people in November and December last year.

Trespass notices were delivered to the occupiers of Nelson Square Reserve in Picton this morning, just after 9.30am….

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