Protesters asked to stick to cars

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson attend the Howl of a Protest...
Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson attend the Howl of a Protest in Gore in July. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Groundswell's ‘‘Mother of All Protests’’ will head to Stewart Island as organisers fend off accusations the rural lobby is at risk of having tomorrow’s protest hijacked.

They believe the way the protest will be structured safeguards it from being taken over and deviating from its rural roots.

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie, of Tapanui, said the protest would take place in about 70 towns and cities across New Zealand as of yesterday , including Halfmoon Bay.

‘‘It’s probably the only only protest there’s ever been on Stewart Island.’’

Tomorrow’s action is the successor to July’s ‘‘Howl of a Protest’’, which led to large gatherings in most centres nationwide to oppose what Groundswell sees as overregulation of the rural sector by the Government.

The key points included Three Waters reform, the national policy on freshwater, significant natural areas, the national policy on indigenous biodiversity, shortages of seasonal rural workers, climate change policy, the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill and the clean car package.

Those points carry through to tomorrow’s action, but where it would differ was in how it was structured to take Covid-19 into account, Mr McKenzie said.

It would take the form of a vehicle protest; participants were asked to come in vehicles and stay in them, with no street marching or gathering.

Mr McKenzie said that would also deter any bandwagoning on the Groundswell cause in the form of unrelated protests such the anti-vaccination movement.

Those groups were generally supportive of the Groundswell cause, he said

‘‘Most of the people in those organisations are happy to come under the Groundswell banner for the day and I hope they adhere to that.

‘‘If they display a sign that is not an approved Groundswell slogan then they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.’’

Organisers in Masterton pulled the pin on their protest over fringe elements distracting from the core issues and a loss of focus.

Mr McKenzie admitted there was potential for people to be ‘‘silly’’, but believed the mobile nature of the protest would make it difficult for people with a different agenda to infiltrate.

His fellow co-founder Laurie Paterson, of Waikaka, agreed.

‘‘We only want approved approved Groundswell messaging and obviously if they are not Groundswell messages then they are not part of the protest.’’

Because of Covid-19 the movement had put out a ‘‘list of expectations’’, he said.

‘‘We want to create a spectacle in the sheer number of vehicles that hopefully the Government can’t ignore.’’

Vehicles were expected to meet from about noon to 1pm before driving into the centre of towns and cities.

Mr McKenzie would deliver a Groundswell statement nationwide on Newstalk ZB following the 1.30pm news bulletin.

Participants were then expected to disperse.

As of yesterday, Groundswell protests in the south were planned for Alexandra, Balclutha, Bluff, Gore, Invercargill, Mosgiel, Oamaru, Palmerston, Queenstown, Stewart Island, Te Anau, and Wanaka.

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