Extinction Rebellion climate protest aims to bring Wellington to a standstill

Protesters in Wellington are causing chaos in the CBD, forcing a Government building into lockdown and backing up traffic.

Ministry of Bussiness Innovation and Employment (MBIE) acting deputy chief executive Adrian Regnault told Newshub employees were told to avoid the area. 

 "People have been advised to stay away from 15 Stout Street today due to the Extinction Rebellion protest action currently taking place. 

"All entrances in and out remain closed."

Staff from MBIE who made it into the office exited through a back door mid-morning due to the disruption caused by the protests.

"MBIE people have been able to leave the building and will be working from home where possible for the rest of the day," said Reganult.

Commuters in Wellington are warned to expect delays due to the protest which has people "swarming" intersections and allegedly jumping in front of public transport. 

"Is it true you're jumping in front of buses? Not on," wrote one person on the Extinction Rebellion Facebook page.

"I am a person with a disability trying to get to my specialist appointment by public transport and now the bus is going nowhere."

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion says this is not the case.

"[Protesters] go on to the intersection when the red light is on and hold the intersection for a couple of light rotations," they told Newshub.

"There are marshals with hi-vis keeping everyone safe."

After disruptions Monday morning, bus services are returning to normal. However, Wellington City Council says buses will be subject to disruptions as they occur. 

The climate activist group  met at Midland Park from 7am, according to their Facebook page.

The group's spokesperson, Jen Olsen, appeared on The AM Show earlier on Monday morning, but refused to say exactly what the group had planned.

"I can't tell you the details, but it will be a disruption in Wellington," she said.

"It's going to be a way of us making it really clear that we're facing a climate emergency and New Zealanders want action on that."

Six people are attached with metal pipes to a pink car at the Lambton Quay end of Stout St, while at the Balance St end of Stout St a group of people were attached to each other standing around a boat.

The Wellington protest is the first of 60 protests planned by the group in cities around the world.

Last week Extinction Rebellion made headlines when they sprayed fake blood from a fire hose onto the Treasury building in London.

Eight people were arrested in that protest.

Extinction Rebellion climate protest aims to bring Wellington to a standstill
Photo credit: Extinction Rebellion.

Olsen says people here, too, are prepared to be arrested if it comes to that.

"If that's what it takes, then yes," she said.

Police are not aware of any arrests in Wellington so far

When asked if it was fair to disrupt the city's commuters, Olsen said she hoped people wouldn't be angry at the group.

"I hope that doesn't happen. I hope that people will understand that we're doing this to help them because we're doing this to bring about the change that is needed for their future and for their children's future,' she said.

If we don't do more to combat climate change, Olsen said, "the disruption that they're likely to face in the future will be far greater."

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ was established in late 2018 and has 20 branches throughout the country.

Newshub.

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