'Tiny group' of NZers who are 'misguided by garbage' on social media - Labour Minister weighs in on anti-mandate protesters

A Labour Minister is ripping into anti-mandate protesters outside Parliament, saying they are a "tiny group of New Zealanders" who have been "misguided by garbage" on social media. 

The protesters have been camped out on Parliament's lawns for three nights with tension escalating on Thursday. 

Speaking with AM on Friday, Attorney-General David Parker said people have the right to protest but it has to be lawful.

"We've got a tiny group of New Zealanders who are misguided because they believe the garbage that's on social media. They are blocking roads… you've got people that are stopping local businesses opening, there have been people assaulted, and they're abusing and threatening journalists. 

"The people obviously have the right to protest. I am a political activist and I have been protesting on the street since the 1970s, but we expect people to abide by the law, we expect the police to enforce it and how they do it is for them."

National MP Simon Bridges, who was appearing on AM alongside Parker, said he agreed "at a level". 

"There is definitely a rent-a-crowd aspect to this," Bridges said. "They believe in anti-vax, in anti-mandate but there is also a kind of everything but the kitchen sink - a whole lot of random people who have just come along for the ride. Some people will have some valid views but there is also a real extremism there and violence." 

Police moved in to remove and arrest protesters on Thursday after Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard ordered them to remove their tents.

More than 120 protesters were arrested as those gathered clashed with police. Two officers were also assaulted. 

Police say the number of protesters on Parliament's grounds has reduced significantly but many still remain. 

Overnight, an orange and white barricade was installed alongside a metal railing that was already in place. 

Speaking to AM, reporter Ashleigh McCaull says it feels like the "calm before the storm". She says there are still a number of tents pitched on the grounds, but there aren't as many as yesterday. 

The protesters travelled in convoy from both sides of the country before arriving at Parliament on Tuesday. They drew inspiration from truckers in Canada who are protesting vaccine mandates.