Political irony: Speaker Trevor Mallard and COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins' historic arrests make it hard to trespass protesters

The move to remove protesters is a complex one as the public have the right to protest peacefully on Parliament grounds. 

But politicians who fought for that very right - even getting arrested themselves - have said enough is enough. 

Agitated and angry, a hardcore group of anti-vaxxers has outstayed their welcome. 

"Yes, it is," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday, when asked if it was time for the anti-vaccine mandate protesters to move on from Parliament. 

So as Speaker Trevor Mallard - the boss of Parliament - looked on, the police resorted to forceful removal, leading to more than 100 arrests. 

While it was by no means the largest protest Parliament has seen, it's one of the ugliest. But people do have the right to protest peacefully on Parliament grounds. 

The Speaker had to draw up a special letter. The tents on Parliament's front lawn provided an excuse to trespass the protesters.

"This is unprecedented for New Zealand. We've never had an occupation of this scale - certainly with tents - on Parliament grounds," Superintendent Corrie Parnell said at a press conference on Thursday. 

The Speaker's letter had to be carefully worded because others who've been arrested at Parliament protesting - including the Speaker himself during the SIS protests in 1977, and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins during a student protest 20 years later - have had convictions overturned. 

"I absolutely support the right of people to protest peacefully at Parliament. In fact, I went all the way through the court system in order to establish that that is something that people should be able to do," Hipkins said. 

But this has gone too far. The Parliament was united in condemning them. 

"They're intimidating school children travelling to and from school because they happen to be wearing masks," Hipkins said. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said it was "unfortunate that global misinformation and disinformation campaigns have landed us here today". 

ACT leader David Seymour described the protest as "antisocial". 

National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop said: "We don't support the protesters. The leader [Christopher Luxon] and I and [deputy leader] Nicola [Willis] have made that very clear."

Though not quite the whole party, it seems. National MP Maureen Pugh was forced to apologise on Thursday after expressing support for the convoy in a Facebook post. 

She released a statement saying: "I hadn't initially appreciated the anti-vaccination message being spread by Convoy 2022."

"I edited and ultimately deleted the post once they arrived and I saw some of their signs and messaging."

Bishop responded: "All I've heard is there was a post that went up briefly this morning or yesterday that's been deleted and we don't support the protesters outside. We've made that very clear."

Pugh is the second National MP to get mixed up in the anti-vaxx mess. Harete Hipango was reprimanded by her leader for attending two protests in Whanganui over the past couple of months. She did not attend the latest one. 

"No National Party MP has been to see the protesters. No National Party MP will be visiting and meeting the protesters," said Bishop.

The ACT Party danced close to the protesters' line too. Leader Seymour voiced opposition to the mandates on AM. 

"We said if we got 90 percent vaccinated we'd get our freedom back but it seems that the political control that comes from COVID is unending."

He later told Newshub: "I'll use whatever language I like. If people that I disagree with also use it, that's their problem."

Former ACT leader Rodney Hide has waltzed in with a call for the party to support the protest.

In an open letter, he wrote: "I support the protest 100 percent."

Seymour said: "There's no political benefit in appealing to that group of people outside Parliament."

It's a couple of hundred voters no one wants. 

By the sounds of it, once a couple of tents went up, things just escalated too quickly for the cops to get on top of the protest. It feels like people around Parliament were caught off guard this time. 

Now, there's police reinforcements in Wellington from Auckland and Christchurch - special crowd control senior cops flown in to try and clean up the chaos. 

There is a special irony in the fact the case law that prevents the Speaker from getting rid of the protesters was created by him and Hipkins being arrested at Parliament themselves. 

Newshub has been told the Speaker looked very carefully at those cases when drafting up his eviction notice.

Once it's finally over, Newshub understands there will be a review into how it was handled, both by Parliament and probably police, to make sure this never happens again.