Anti-mandate protester draws swastika on statue at Parliament grounds

An anti-mandate protester has drawn a swastika on a statue at Parliament amid increasing tensions. 

The protesters have been camped out at the grounds since Tuesday after travelling from both ends of the country to protest mandatory COVID-19 vaccines. 

Tensions kicked off on Thursday morning after protesters refused to remove tents from the grounds. It comes after Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard told them to move the tents or they could be trespassed. 

Video from the scene shows a person drawing a swastika on what's believed to be the Premier Richard John Seddon statue. 

Under the swastika the protester wrote "truth" and "freedom". The swastika appears to be the traditional Hindu design that was appropriated by the Nazis.

The protesters in Wellington drew inspiration from truckies in Ottawa, Canada who drove in convoy to the capital to protest mandates. Several of those protesters carried signs and flags emblazoned with swastikas. 

Earlier, Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell warned protesters they will be arrested if they break the law.

"It is disappointing that despite the grounds being officially closed to the public earlier today, a number of protesters are refusing repeated requests to leave the precinct," Superintendent Parnell said. 

"Police continue to take a measured approach, exercising their powers fairly and proportionately. We continue to acknowledge people's rights to protest, however those who behave unlawfully will face arrest."

Police have arrested more than 50 people so far.