Vegan activists take over Auckland's Santa Parade as part of nationwide protest

A police dog puppy, a rogue inflatable star and the final appearance of Auckland's controversial giant Santa Claus all featured in Sunday's Santa Parade - as well as an unexpected addition to the lineup.

Dozens of vegan activists protested over the weekend as part of a coordinated, nationwide effort - including a brief disruption of the annual Christmas parade.

Footage shared to Facebook shows a handful of protesters storming the Santa Parade as the McDonald's float made its way down Queen St.

Organised by the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE NZ), the weekend protests were aimed at raising awareness for the 'Close all slaughterhouses in New Zealand' petition submitted to Parliament.

"Do you support animal cruelty or animal liberation?" one activist asked as he live-streamed the protesters joining the parade.

"Wake up people, we don't want to support corrupt corporations."

The activists, many clad in cow-print onesies, held a poster reading 'Peace Begins on your Plate' as they followed the McDonald's float down Queen St.

Protesters on Auckland's Queen St.
Protesters on Auckland's Queen St. Photo credit: Anna Rippon / Supplied

The disruption lasted a matter of minutes before security told them to exit the parade.

"While some people consider these actions controversial, the disruptions are designed to remind consumers they have a choice, whereas animals killed for our food have no choice," DxE spokesperson Anna Rippon says.

Activists also disrupted shoppers at supermarkets across the country on Saturday, appearing at Auckland's Quay St Countdown, Wellington's Kilbirnie Pak'nSave, Christchurch's Moorhouse Ave Pak'nSave and Countdown Central in Dunedin.

Protesters also stood in the meat aisles of several supermarkets on Saturday.
Protesters also stood in the meat aisles of several supermarkets on Saturday. Photo credit: Anna Rippon / Supplied

The protesters stood in front of the meat aisles, holding signs demanding shoppers to stop eating animals. Many of the activists had their mouths taped shut. 

The group has carried out nine disruptions nationwide since September in support of the closure of slaughterhouses.

In September, Rippon and a handful of activists made global headlines after their controversial protest at Countdown St Lukes. Footage of the event showed Rippon yelling at staff who questioned the protest, saying it was for the "victims" of the meat industry.

Rippon's petition calls for the House of Representatives to pass legislation to "protect the lives of all animals being killed for human consumption" and ban slaughterhouses in New Zealand.

The petition, published on September 17, has gained 506 signatures so far.

Police have been contacted for comment.