A convoy of trucks and mobile homes blocked streets around New Zealand’s parliament in Wellington on Tuesday to protest health and vaccination measures, a movement inspired by those crippling the Canadian capital.
Hundreds of vehicles decorated with messages such as “Give us our freedom back” and “Coercion is not consent,” parked in the streets near Parliament.
Hundreds more marched through the city center blowing their horns while more than a thousand people listened to sermons.
Stu Maine, a Wellington resident, said protesters felt their concerns about eroding their rights had not been heard from the government.
“I am vaccinated, but I am against forcing people to do so,” he told AFP, describing the policy as “scandalous”.
The protest remained peaceful, and the police did not report any arrests or major incidents.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had no intention of speaking with those involved in the operation, stressing that the majority of New Zealanders had shown their support for the government’s vaccination programme.
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“96% of New Zealanders are vaccinated, which allows us to live today with fewer restrictions thanks to the extra protection it offers,” she told Radio New Zealand.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory for people who work in certain sectors such as health, police, education and defense.
The health passport system has come into effect, which requires people to prove they are vaccinated to enter restaurants, participate in sporting events or religious services.
It is not mandatory for public transport, supermarkets, schools or access to health services.
Several protesters in Wellington carried Canadian flags, including an expat named Billy, who refused to give his last name.
Hundreds of trucks have blockaded the Canadian capital for more than ten days, and the mayor of Ottawa called on federal authorities on Monday to help end it.
Wellington Caravan organizers have not indicated how long they intend to stay in the city.
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