NZ COVID-19 conspiracy group in disarray after almost nobody turns up to anti-lockdown protest

A New Zealand conspiracy group is in disarray, turning on each other and lamenting a poor turnout after barely anyone turned up to an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland CBD last week.

Police arrived at Aotea Square to break up the demonstration on Friday after being alerted to chatter about it on social media, but told Newshub only one person arrived with the intention of protesting.

"Police have been in the area and have spoken to one person who arrived intending to attend the protest," a spokesperson said. "Police spoke to the individual who was encouraged to comply with alert level 4 restrictions and chose to leave."

The embarrassing turnout has caused ructions within a prominent New Zealand conspiracy group, with one furious anti-lockdown protester turning on their fellow members and demanding answers for the no-show.

"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED NEW ZEALAND????? Where were all you people?" they wrote in a chat on instant messaging service Telegram.

"I was there, only to see an empty Aotea Square, bar one man holding a placard and a few NZ Nazi's (sic). To those who made up this poster, you are gutless, yes GUTLESS to not show up at the protest.

"If this is anything to go by, I don't hold much hope for the 'silent protest' outside the government buildings that is supposed to be happening."

Some were furious at the turnout, while others blamed a lack of communication.
Some were furious at the turnout, while others blamed a lack of communication. Photo credit: Getty Images

Others laid the blame with protest organisers for poor communication. They said they were confused about whether the protest was still on, and remonstrated with fellow group members to "step up" their organisational skills and "mobilize properly".

"They let us down big time," one person said of the event organisers.

"I blame the abysmal lack of communication amongst us truthers for why that event was a no show," said another.  "I specifically asked... is that event still on, and couldn't get 1 damn answer from anyone."

One person said they turned up with two others at Aotea Square to see if the protest was legitimate, but ended up not joining in when they saw the turnout.

Another called it "a non-event".

"We were there and we knew of 3 others, so not much to report I'm afraid. It seems New Zealand loves its servitude."

The plan to protest on Friday came from a conspiracy theory Instagram account which called on people "who see the bigger picture" to get involved - despite saying it wasn't involved in the protest and had no idea who was behind it. 

The post was accompanied by a busy graphic which read "enough is enough" in capital letters at the top. It went on to say: "How long will you let her destroy our country. NZ calling all who call NZ home - it is time to take a stand! A stand for the future we want. Our NZ." 

On the first day of lockdown, conspiracy theorists Billy Te Kahika and Vinny Eastwood were apprehended and later charged after attending an anti-lockdown protest outside TVNZ's Auckland headquarters.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster later said police had "a low tolerance for unlawful gatherings, but particularly in the context of a Delta variant outbreak".

Last week, Coster said police would "intensify our enforcement" of alert level 4 rules and deploy more road patrols.