Police officer's first-hand account from Parliament protest revealed

One year on from the fiery end to the Parliament protest, businesses say they still haven't recovered.

Newshub's also obtained first-hand accounts from the police officers who suspect they had faeces thrown in their faces.

March 2, 2022: The day Parliament burned.

It was an explosive end to the 24-day occupation. On Thursday, just a few were commemorating the one-year anniversary.

There was a song and a message.

"There's still a lot of people who need to wake up," said Pepe Becker, one of those at Parliament on Thursday.

Singing but still fuming about the vaccine mandates introduced to protect New Zealand's most vulnerable.

"It's a fact. We all die, you know? Vulnerable people who are ill do die," Becker said.

A year ago, they came in cars, campers and across the sea to challenge the mandates.

The protest became an occupation on Parliament's front lawn. Through torrential rain and tedious tunes, the protest became pro-fest with haircuts, food trucks and humongous bowls of guacamole.

An entire unwanted village was constructed in the capital's shadow before it could be stopped.

"They didn't control it to start with. And then it got out of control. Then there was no control after that," said Nick Patel from Cafe Vanilla.

His business has never quite recovered.

Ministry staffers were blocked from their offices for weeks and now work from home more.

"If they're not coming to work, any business isn't going to be flourishing or anything."

Police made some attempts to push protestors back and on February 21, it got ugly.

An officer's statement obtained under the Official Information Act reveals disgusting details.

"I could smell what I would describe as faecal matter… There was brown liquid in the bottle," the officer said. 

"I said to him, 'Is that shit water you just squirted at me?' He replied, 'It might be' with a smirk on his face. Then he walked away."

But Becker said: "That was never proven".

Newshub put it to Becker that we have police officers' statements. 

"Why are you worried about that?" Becker replied. "Why are you worried about that when people have died. I mean it's hearsay. It's gossip. Honestly, the mainstream media just wants to talk about gossip."

A week later, it was more than faeces. Rubbish, chairs and fire extinguishers were hurled and a car was reversed into a crowd.

"That final day there were some really dangerous situations where officers feared for their lives," said Chris Cahill, the President of the NZ Police Association. 

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has spent a year going through 2000 complaints, 320 hours of footage and interviewing more than 350 people - from protestors to the Prime Minister. Its report is due back next month.

"Politicians need to learn everyone deserves to be listened to some degree and police need to make sure they're prepared when things go wrong," said Cahill.

You know things went really wrong when you need a digger using a mattress as a mop to clean it all up.