Police try and control protesters at the National Party's
Christmas function. Photo NZ Herald/Greg Bowker
Prime Minister John Key says a group of angry protesters
did not ruin the National Party's Christmas function as they
banged on the windows amid a heavy police presence last night.
About 30 members of the Auckland Action Against Poverty
(AAAP) group occupied the second-storey balcony of the
Auckland Grammar Old Boys' pavilion, peering in at Mr Key and
Another group of about 30 formed a picket line at the entry
gate on Mountain Rd in Epsom.
Mr Key told Newstalk ZB this morning that the protesters had
not ruined the party.
"They're the same people protesting about deep sea oil
drilling, they're the same people protesting about the
convention centre, they're the same people that protested
about changes to the labour laws for the Hobbit, they're the
same people that protested about the 90 day probationary
"So yeah, they just protest because that's all they've got to
do all day."
About 15 police officers were on hand to control the
The venue overlooks Auckland Grammar's playing fields, with
mostly floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open out to the
Pushing and shoving broke out as officers tried to move the
balcony group after they started banging on the walls and
windows. They confiscated the group's loud speakers, but did
not remove the protesters.
AAAP spokeswoman Sarah Thompson said the group was protesting
over the Government's welfare reforms and job-creation
"We wanted to come here to send a message to John Key and his
mates that these cuts are not okay," she said.
"We won't lie down and take it."
Mr Key arrived at the function about 6.45pm and was joined by
MPs including Judith Collins and Paula Bennett.
Former MP and Mana Party member Sue Bradford said the group
was carrying on in the spirit of Nelson Mandela and standing
up for those most vulnerable in society.
No arrests were made, and protesters left voluntarily about
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said: "It was a National Party
Northern Region Christmas function attended by around 300
people.The protesters didn't in any way disrupt the event."
- Ben Irwin of the New Zealand Herald/additional reporting