National celebrates 80th with Christchurch shindig
Security has been beefed up at Wigram Air Force Museum in Christchurch ahead of the National Party's annual conference, which kicks off on Saturday morning.
The main entrance is flanked with guards, with mandatory ID checks for anyone heading into the venue.
Protests are expected outside, with rallying culminating tomorrow when Prime Minister John Key gives his keynote speech, which is expected to focus on housing.
Hundreds of paid-up members and National MPs poured into the city yesterday, and celebrated the party's 80th birthday at a cocktail function last night. Whangarei MP Shane Reti was seen at the airport with a guitar.
A small protest was held yesterday too outside Chateau on the Park hotel, where many of the visitors and MPs are staying.
Protest organiser Gen de Spa says the rallies have been prompted by the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, the housing and homeless crisis, climate change, poverty, charter schools and asset sales.
"We're going to be there Icelandic-style with pots and pans, drawing attention to the fact these policies are not what's best for most people," she says.
"We are voicing our opinions in terms of being really unhappy with the whole political system and the way it operates, and they're on the brink of big changes."
There were only around 40 protesters outside the hotel last night, but Ms de Spa says that's not indicative of the lack of people angry at the government.
"There's an awful lot of people in the world who don't have the time or energy to protest because they're too busy trying to put food on the table. But if they could, they would," she says.