Tent pitched on Octagon's damaged grass

The Dunedin City Council is having an easier time controlling daisies than it is tents that randomly pop up on an area of lawn it is trying to repair.

Just after 2pm yesterday, a single tent appeared on the lawn, which is under repair after being damaged by camping protesters late last year.

An occupier sitting with the tent said he pitched it to show support for a fellow protester who appeared in court yesterday on a charge of wilful damage, laid as a result of the original tent occupation of the Octagon; and the eviction of protesters in Auckland on Monday. The occupier, who did not want to be named, said he did not know how long he would stay.

It is the second time a tent has been pitched on the lawn since it was roped off while it is repaired.

The previous time, a tent was put up at the time the charged man was supposed to appear in court, but the tent was taken down the night it was put up.

Council community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said staff spoke to police yesterday and it was decided security staff would ask the protesters to get off the grass by the end of the day.

Non-compliance would bring a warning the council would look at making a complaint to the police.

Mr Reece said the area was a work site, roped off for contractors to complete the repair of the grass.

The issue was not the protest and, in fact, had nothing to do with the protest, he said.

"They can pitch their tent anywhere they like in the Octagon, just not on the grass.

"They might say they're not hurting the grass. Well, that is their opinion, but the ratepayers are actually paying people to fix it up, and they [the protesters] need to get off it until we've done that."

The protester who put the tent up said he was not worried about the grass because he did not believe the tent was damaging the turf, and the costs of restoration were minimal compared with the bigger issues at hand in the world.

Police said they were monitoring the situation.


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