'Pro-Trump' rally at NZ Parliament

Billy Te Kahika hired his own, private security for his protest. Photo: Jason Walls / NZH
Billy Te Kahika hired his own, private security for his protest. Photo: Jason Walls / NZH
Police have been called in to monitor a so-called "freedom rally" outside Parliament this afternoon, led by controversial political figure Billy Te Kahika.

Protesters have gathered outside Parliament – as have police who are on-site this afternoon to "ensure safety and uphold the law".

Te Kahika has also hired his own, private security for today's event. There are roughly 50 protestors - they are outnumbered by people having lunch on Parliament's lawn.

The rally was planned to converge on Parliament grounds at 1pm but protesters began to gather much earlier, armed with Donald Trump flags and 'QAnon' T-shirts.

One of the protesters spoken to by The New Zealand Herald said she "loved Trump" and the rally was about a number of issues, including 1080, "freedom" and the Covid-19 lockdowns.

The US House of Representatives has made Donald Trump the first US president to be impeached twice, formally charging him with inciting an insurrection just a week after a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC.

In a video statement released by The White House, Trump did not mention the impeachment vote and took no responsibility for his remarks to supporters last week, but condemned the violence.

"Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law and order," he said.

One of the protesters said she "loved Trump" and the rally was about a number of issues. Photo:...
One of the protesters said she "loved Trump" and the rally was about a number of issues. Photo: Jason walls
Parliament's security is out in numbers and there is a police presence on the ground in  Wellington.

A police spokesperson said they had been made aware of a rally planned at the Beehive, and were in contact with the protest organiser.

"Police's role is to ensure safety and uphold the law, while recognising the lawful right to protest."

The rally earlier came under fire from Māori council chair Matthew Tukaki.

"It's alt-right, it's pro-Trump, this has got nothing to do with freedom."

The Herald has sought comment from Te Kahika.

Protestors begin gathering outside Parliament for this afternoon's 'freedom rally'. Photo: Jason...
Protestors begin gathering outside Parliament for this afternoon's 'freedom rally'. Photo: Jason Walls
Tukaki said the rally organisers were pushing conspiracies about Covid-19, such as that New Zealand was about to enter a level 4 lockdown.

"New Zealand is the standout country around the world right now, we have freedom of movement in the face of a global pandemic, we are able to move freely across our country.

"You still get to go to a tangi and a funeral, you still get to go see your moko that has just been born in the hospital. You still get to go celebrate that 70th birthday.

"So what exact freedoms are they talking about?"

Posters for the rally urged supporters to bring their placards.

"Unite and stand against the harmful, unnecessary and unlawful lockdowns," the poster, shared by Te Kahika on Facebook said.

A protest outside NZ Parliament gets underway. Photo: Jason Walls
A protest outside NZ Parliament gets underway. Photo: Jason Walls
Tukaki said New Zealand had elements of the same problems as the United States, but Kiwis were "more practical". The US Capitol building was stormed in Washington last week.

"Some of our community do feel disaffected, disenfranchised and disconnected but not on the scale as the United States," he said.

"We can work on that here and I strongly believe we've got an opportunity to really balance the equation and create equity."

Tukaki expected thousands could show up at the rally in Wellington.

A police spokesperson said they would recognise the lawful right to protest, while ensuring safety and upholding the law. They would be ready to respond to any issues should they arise.

Security erected fences ahead of the rally. Photo: Jason Walls
Security erected fences ahead of the rally. Photo: Jason Walls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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