Anti-lockdown protest: Police promise 'prosecution action' against organisers

Police are promising to prosecute organisers of an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland on Saturday.

As more than 100,000 Kiwis were vaccinated on Saturday, about 2000 turned up to a protest at Auckland Domain, the second this month.

Police didn't make any arrests, but are promising to take action in the coming days.

"Today's gathering of around 2000 people at the Auckland Domain was in breach of Alert Level 3 restrictions, which limits gatherings to weddings, funerals and tangihanga with no more than 10 people," said Superintendent Shanan Gray, the relieving Auckland City District Commander.

"While those in attendance generally conducted themselves in a calm manner and adhered to rules around mask wearing and distancing between smaller separate bubbles, the gathering was by its very nature a significant breach of COVID-19 Alert Level 3 requirements.

"No arrests were made today however Police confirm that they will be taking prosecution action against a number of individual organisers in the coming days. Police will provide updates when available."

Brian Tamaki at the Auckland Domain.
Brian Tamaki at the Auckland Domain. Photo credit: Newshub.

Among those at Auckland Domain on Saturday was Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki.

He appeared before the Auckland District Court this week to plead not guilty to charges brought for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 alert level requirements at the first October 2 protest. The pastor was granted bail on the condition he didn't organise or attend any protest in breach of the rules. 

Following that, he released a statement saying he would picnic at the domain on Saturday "adhering to the current COVID-19 restrictions, wearing my mask, but also at the same time exercising my right to peacefully protest". 

"I am not organising this Families Freedom picnic, I will leave that to The Freedoms & Rights Coalition team who are quite capable," Tamaki said.

Tamaki, as well as linesman Paul Thompson who was also charged, maintained this week that the October 2 protest was permitted under the rules. 

The maximum penalty for breaching the COVID-19 order is six months in prison or a fine not exceeding $4000.

Under alert level 3, most non-essential gatherings, where bubbles are intermingling are not permitted. However, weddings and funeral with a maximum of ten people can take place. Picnics of 10 people between two households outdoors are allowed at the first step.