COVID-19: Parliament grounds set on fire as police attempt to restore order to protest

What was once a campsite for anti-mandate protesters is now lit up in flames as fight's break out between police and protesters on Wellington's Parliament grounds. 

Police have ditched their previous tactic of a de-escalation approach and suited in riot gear they pushed onto the front lawns of Parliament, ripping down tents as they went.

In retaliation, protesters threw various items at officers and tents were set on fire as protesters threw cardboard and flammable liquids to fuel the flames.

Two fire hoses and firefighters have been brought in to tackle the fire.

"Shame on all of you, we've been peaceful", one protester yelled at the police.

Police have attempted to "restore order" to Parliament grounds by clearing the anti-mandate campsite of signs, tents and protesters after the weeks-long protest has been deemed as no longer peaceful.

Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster said the protest has reached a stage where protest leaders were unwilling or unable to have meaningful change the unruly behaviour of the few hundred protesters that still remain.

"This has never been about preventing lawful protest, but this particular protest has reached a stage where the harm being done far outweighs any legitimate protest," Coaster said in a statement.

"We became concerned that those with good intentions were outnumbered by those with a willingness to use violence to effect their means."

Police said so far today they had arrested around 38 protesters for a range of offences from possession of a weapon to assaults on police. 

Three police staff were receiving medical attention after receiving injuries, including one officer having paint thrown in their face.

Police said some protesters had weapons including fire extinguishers, a cord set up as a tripwire, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks.

Police also seized around 30 vehicles including campervans and trucks that will not be returned in the immediate future.

Coaster says they will continue to arrest people and seize vehicles throughout the day as they work to "restore access" to Parliament grounds.