Evictions at Occupy site in capital

Eggs were thrown and tempers rose from a small group of Occupy Wellington protestors as they cleared their gear from Civic Square this morning.

Wellington City Council (WCC) workers, security guards and police turned up at about 6.30 this morning to evict the protestors from the camp they have had set up for 109 days as part of the Occupy global movement.

The Council and police took a "softly, softly'' approach in evicting the 25 protestors, telling them to pack up their gear and leave the area in a "timely manner'', a Council spokesman said.

Just before Christmas the Council sent the group a letter saying they had to be out by January 4, but when this was not met the protestors were sent another letter last week.

It said they had to remove all of their tents and gear from the area by the City to Sea Bridge because it was in breach of a bylaw which prohibits camping in public spaces.

But protestors were not expecting this morning's eviction and woke to police and security guards ordering them out.

The protestors largely complied, and slowly packed up their gear.

However, as well as verbal abuse, two eggs were hurled at the media who bore the brunt of some of the protestors' anger.

A security guard was also punched early in today's eviction, reports said.

Police said they assisted WCC staff to maintain law and order and keep the peace.

"Police are grateful to the occupiers for their full cooperation this morning. It is pleasing to note that no arrests were made and occupiers left Civic Square without incident,'' said Acting Wellington Area Commander Detective Inspector Soni Malaulau.

Trevor Paul, who has been in charge of security for the Occupy group, this morning said this was not the end of Occupy Wellington and they would be back.

"We're pulling down the structures but we are actually staying, and we have told them that.

"Because this issue isn't going to go away ... money is what it's all about.''

They were doing this for all the homeless people in Wellington, of which at least half the group was, he said.

The group planned to be vocal during this weekend's Rugby sevens to highlight their plight.

One of the protestors, who gave his name as Anonymous, said they were just peaceful protestors and were not expecting this morning's eviction.

The group was not causing any dramas and they at least deserved a 24-hour warning before the eviction, he said.

"It's just a raw deal.''

Wellington City Council citizen engagement director Wendy Walker said the Council was very happy with the way this morning's eviction went.

It had plans in place in case the protestors did not comply with the eviction this morning, but had hoped the relationship the Council had built up with the protestors meant it would go smoothly.

"[The eviction] was unexpected, they had been warned that we will take action at some point so they knew it was coming some time soon.''

The group was welcome to continue protesting, but they were not able to set up camp somewhere else, she said.

"They're entitled to use public space, like anyone else, it's the camping that we've objected to ... if they're just protesting and they've got another form of protest, that's fine, but once they start to put tents up and start cooking and doing all those other things, that are just normal everyday living, that's not acceptable.''

A fence would be put around the site so the grass could grow back again.

What seemed to be a similar move by police against occupiers in Christchurch this morning was merely one person being arrested for breach of bail conditions, according to protestors.

Police said they have no plans at this stage to evict the Occupy Christchurch campers from Hagley Park.

The Occupy movement in New Zealand came to a head last week when Occupy Auckland protestors were ordered out of Aotea Square.

- Hana Garrett-Walker/additional reporting The Star

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