Labour's Michael Wood warns MPs who want to support anti-mandate protest it has 'river of filth' running through it

Deputy Leader of the House Michael Wood has issued a stark warning to parliamentary colleagues who want to offer support to the anti-mandate protesters in Wellington.

For 10 days, protesters have camped outside Parliament demanding an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions related to the virus. Despite being trespassed from Parliament grounds, a large group of protesters remain. 

On Wednesday, Wood, who is a Labour MP and minister, spoke in the House the same day that ACT leader David Seymour said he'd met with several protest intermediaries so there can be a "mature de-escalation of this situation". Seymour said he also wants dialogue with the protesters. 

Wood said he's been concerned by some of the "drifting rhetoric" from Opposition MPs about the protest.

"The words I say now I say with some precision and I say really carefully because I think we need to take great care with this," he told the House.

"Out the front of this place, there are people who I think we all feel for. There are some people who are confused, there are some people who are scared, there are some people who have been manipulated by an avalanche of misinformation. 

"There are some people who have been hurt over the past couple of years and they're lashing out.

"We feel for those people. But underneath all of that, there is a river of filth. 

"There is a river of violence and menace. There is a river of anti-Semitism. There is a river of Islamophobia. There is a river of threats to people who work in this place and our staff."

Wood said this shouldn't be condoned and overlooked with the idea that "it's all just good people and maybe we should talk about it and maybe we should put the mandates up for negotiation".

"I would say that there is a river of genuine fascism in parts of the event that we see out the front of this Parliament today," he said. "I just urge colleagues in this House - decent and honourable members of the centre-right parliamentary parties in this Parliament - that a lot is actually on them to not give succour and comfort to an emergent and dangerous far-right movement. I just ask those members to reflect upon that."

Labour's Michael Wood warns MPs who want to support anti-mandate protest it has 'river of filth' running through it
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) - a group of top national security officials - met on Thursday to discuss issues related to the ongoing protest.

ODESC provides strategic advice to the Prime Minister on security and intelligence matters. The group includes bosses from the police, the two spy agencies, foreign affairs and the Defence Force. 

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster on Tuesday activated a major operations centre at police national headquarters in Wellington to support the operation "following ongoing protest activity that is unreasonably impacting the city". 

Coster said protestors had "not taken up the offer and nor have they shown any concern for the negative impact of their activities", which included blocking traffic in the surrounding area - forcing some businesses to close - and reports of locals being harassed. 

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said on Wednesday that several vehicles were voluntarily moved and he was "encouraged by influencers within the group calling for roads to be cleared", but "it will take some time for this conversation to work its way through to a solution". 

"We've been very clear in our intent to unblock the roads and protestors have had ample opportunity to comply with the law and the standard conditions for all protests and demonstrations on Parliament grounds. This also means removing all structures such as tents and marquees."

Police last week arrested more than 120 protesters after House Speaker Trevor Mallard issued a trespass notice. But a core group remained, despite the Speaker's controversial attempts at dispersing them with sprinklers and loud music