What does the right to protest actually mean?

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, February 16th, 2022 - 62 comments
Categories: covid-19, human rights, Parliament, uncategorized - Tags:

I have read many impassioned comments on this site concerning the right to protest.  Who could disagree with protection of one of the most important of our democratic rights?  But discussions often get waylaid because, and this will be a shock to many, there is per se no right to protest.

The “right to protest” is actually a collection of other rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement and association being the primary ones.  If you read the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act the word “protest” does not appear.  Nor does it appear in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

There are limitations.  While you have the right to march and chant and hold signs you cannot do this in private premises for instance and if the occupier tells you to go then you are trespassing and can be arrested.

And use of roads is subject to a requirement that you adhere to generally accepted rules.  For instance jamming up a main road with parked cars is clearly not what is normally intended and is usually met with a fairly instantaneous response from the authorities.

In terms of the use of Parliament’s grounds the Speaker is the person in control and can decide to trespass and exclude individuals, especially those who are disruptive.  The reason is pretty clear, the work of Parliament is all important, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

There have been occasions in the past where the right to access Parliament has been considered by the Courts.  The last one that I can find where the situation was analysed carefully was in Beggs v Police, a High Court decision from 1998.  The case involved 300 students protesting possible changes to tertiary education funding.  Their protest was described as being loud but peaceful.  They demanded the Minister of Education speak to them.  This was refused.  One of the leaders invited the students to take one small peaceful step forward for every minute the Minister did not appear.  They were trespassed and warned on five separate occasions.  A number refused to disperse and 75 students were arrested.

The case was referred to the High Court for a ruling essentially on the interplay between the Bill of Rights Act and the Trespass Act in the Parliamentary precinct.

The Court stayed the prosecutions, essentially because even if the charges were proved the circumstances did not warrant convictions being entered.

On the test to be applied the case note of the Court decision contains this passage:

The exercise by the Speaker of the power of warning persons to leave under s 3 of the Trespass Act 1980 must be reasonable, both in the manner of its exercise and in the prevailing circumstances. A non-exhaustive list of relevant considerations might include: whether actions are disorderly, unlawful or interfere with others in the exercise of their rights and freedoms; whether an assembly is unreasonably prolonged; the rights and freedoms of other people enjoying the privilege of being on Parliament grounds; the rights of the occupier and those whose business or duties take them to Parliament; the size of the assembly and its duration; the content of what is being expressed (if it is hatred, racial abuse, intolerance or obscenity); the concept of ordre public. In any situation, different factors will compete and with differing force. Those factors are likely to include, but may well not be restricted to, those identified above. Attempting to provide a formula is inappropriate and would be unhelpful. The test can only be one of reasonableness.

Using these criteria how does the current protest measure?  Not well I am afraid.  Dealing with each criteria:

  1. “[W]hether actions are disorderly, unlawful or interfere with others in the exercise of their rights and freedoms” – the organisers are clearly attempting to portray this as a peaceful protest but repeated threats of violence to media and politicians and the abusing of members of the public including teenage girls undermines this attempt.  And the users of the roads, neighbouring businesses, parts of Victoria University and public transport users are having their rights severely impinged.
  2. “[W]hether an assembly is unreasonably prolonged” – we are in day eight.  Protests are usually short lived events and overnight stays are very rare.
  3. “[T]he rights and freedoms of other people enjoying the privilege of being on Parliament grounds” – apart from the odd Political Scientist who thinks the protestors are fine the area has become a no go area, particularly for those wearing masks.  The media in particular have had to adjust their behaviour in ways which should not be expected or tolerated.
  4. “[T]he rights of the occupier and those whose business or duties take them to Parliament” – the running of Parliament itself has not been affected but this is the House of Representatives.  The chilling effect on the ability to use the area properly is of concern.
  5. “[t]he size of the assembly and its duration” – crowd numbers are not big.  The tents and the parked cars mean that space taken is greater than for other better attended protests.
  6. “[T]he content of what is being expressed (if it is hatred, racial abuse, intolerance or obscenity” – despite the protestations of peace and love there have been numerous reports of disorderly behaviour and threats.  And there are actual nazis present.
  7. “[T]he concept of ordre public” – as the country prepares for its most difficult health crisis in the past century this particular protest is the sort of side show that I prefer we did not have.

I admire the restraint of the police and their willingness to attempt to negotiate with the protestors.  I admire elements of the left attempting to justify the nature of the protests and suggesting that meangingful engagement and dialogue with them is the best thing to do.

But from a legal standpoint my personal view is that claims by the Wellington protestors that their actions are legally protected are very misguided.  And I hate to sound like an old right wing reactionary but this is backed up I think by some reasonably clear advice from the full bench of the High Court.  It is a real stretch to say that the current protest is legally protected.  I suspect that within the next couple of days the protestors will find this out.

62 comments on “What does the right to protest actually mean? ”

  1. Ad 1

    If the last useful case was 25 years ago and only got the Hight Court, the protesters could pop over the road and occupy the Supreme Court for a while to clarify a few things. Including requiring Parliament to be more precise about a right to protest.

    The current protest may have specific criteria because it's on Parliament grounds. So far the state has seen sense not to call in emergency powers like Prime Minister Trudeau has.

    But here's my counterfactual:

    Using the above criteria, which of the following would exist:

    – The Union movement

    – The Labour Party

    – The feminist movement

    – Maori land rights and the entire Waitangi Tribunal restitutions

    – The remaining forests in the North Island

    Answer: few if any

    • mickysavage 1.1

      It actually made it to the Court of Appeal and interestingly student politico Chris Hipkins was one of the parties. It was a full court which meant they took some care with the decision.

      I agree at different times progressive movements have pushed the edge of what is legally acceptable.

      This post is to address the perception amongst some of the protesters and others that they have a right to do what they are doing. They don't.

      And I would be more inclined to be respectful and for there to be a dialogue if they were not insisting on the removal of public health measures as the Omicron wave hits. And they did not have nazis in their midst.

      • Ad 1.1.1

        Oh no it's definitely time to shunt their cars and kick their asses.

        In Labour we would have expected nothing less when we were having a crack.

        They're lucky Wellingtonians are all excessively polite.

      • Ross 1.1.2

        Dr Martin Luther King was a perennial offender. Arrested at least 29 times and served time in the big house for civil disobedience. You might recall what he had to say about bad laws.

        "One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

        I'm old enough to remember when gay (male) sex was illegal in New Zealand. Was it wrong? I'll let you decide, Micky.

        And I would be more inclined to be respectful and for there to be a dialogue if they were not insisting on the removal of public health measures as the Omicron wave hits.

        You might like to explain how vaccine mandates are helping us. The majority of new Covid cases are fully vaccinated. Over 900 new cases today were fully vaccinated. If you can justify vaccine mandates, why don’t you put the case for them?

        The most patriotic person is the person who can draw attention to a nation’s failings. The protesters are doing just that.



        • mickysavage

          False comparison. MLK was protesting for fundamental human rights and was justified in doing so. This current group is attempting to embarrass the Government over health policies that have kept us safe.

          You keep trotting out these “statistics” that refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus about the vaccine. Sure more people who are vaccinated are getting infected. It is because the overwhelming majority of adults are now vaccinated.

          And while the hospitalisation rate is going up so far fingers crossed the body count has not.

          Please get better attack lines. Yours have been refuted repeatedly.

          • Jason

            The convoy should have been removed after a couple of days, they made their point, hey did not need to stay. But, it is completely legal to protest on the grounds of the Marae, people who are abusive should be dealt with, but parliament represents the people. Denying the right to protest at the physical and symbolic struture of the State is inherently authoritarian, and Trevor Mallard very obvious abused his power and made matters worse.

            Civil Rights are never complete, human rights are never complete. We must balance rights and freedoms, but the response to this protest was counterproductive on behalf of the government. They should have been welcoming not destructive. Potentially negative elements in the protest, but they wish to test the limits of human and civil rights, as they are never set in stone. People have a right to be skeptical.

          • Ross

            Yours have been refuted repeatedly

            Stop telling porkies, Micky. I haven’t been refuted once. And I’m still waiting for you to justify vaccine mandates.

            More than 900 fully vaccinated people contracted the virus today. Is that your idea of success?

        • Ross, as you compare the protestors to gar rights activists, I'm just wondering what you think of the rights and freedoms coalition…
          Given that Brian Tamaki famously blamed the chch earthquakes on gay people.

          As for the mandates, if only that were the only issue on the agenda-

          Apparently the protestors list of demands include, the removal of all health measures related to Covid, a move that would be decidedly idiotic given our precarious position just before an outbreak-

          The arrest of all of those involved in adminstering the covid response so far.

          The removal of the labour government –

          Not to mention – banning the us of 1080

          Cancelling the 3 waters bill.

          And any number of peripheral issues.

          I also don't remember any gay activists threatening to hang or guillotine politicians, attacking journalists, or students, bus drivers, or spitting on people.

          But the comparison is particularly puzzling given Tamaki's stated views.

    • McFlock 1.2

      Using the above criteria, which of the following would exist

      All of them.

      Heck, many of those movements in NZ have faced stronger responses than the current lot.

      e.g. The Union movement and the Labour party.

      1951 waterfront dispute

      1890 maritime strike: army and mounted police used

      and many others.

      The fact a protest is breaking a law isn't usually questioned by protestors. They feel the cause is more important, so they'll face the music. They'll fight the charges, but only a fool thinks that camping somewhere for a week now means they own the land.

      • Ad 1.2.1

        They certainly have, with harsher laws applied – but not because the law enabled them to do so. They made their gains because they broke the law, and remade the law, multiple times over.

        • McFlock


          So they'd all exist given the criteria in the post – because they do all exist.

          • Ad

            They exist because they disobeyed the law and won, not because they obeyed it.

            • McFlock

              Which is a different argument from there being a legally-enshrined right to protest however one wants.

    • Craig H 1.3

      I agree protests shouldn't be banned – certainly unions always love pickets and marches as ways to highlight issues to the public, with Wellington marches often ending at Parliament for a demonstration and then finishing and everyone carries on their day. Perhaps that's the key point though – unions don't usually engage in days-long action or occupations, and also take steps to ensure health and safety of members and staff. There's a beginning and end as part of the planning.

      That said, protests/marches etc weren't legal in the formative days of unions – the reason organisations representing worker movements such as Labour Parties (including the NZLP) and unions use red in their logos is symbolic representation of the blood shed by the workers and others in support of those goals in the early days in clashes with the authorities. It could be hazardous to say the least, and there was very little legal protection, which is a big difference to now.

      Universal suffrage was another matter over which a lot of people protested illegally and suffered the consequences including brutality from the authorities. Some of the items in your list might have been ones which would not exist without some form of a right to protest, but going back further, a lot of it was illegal at the time these movements started, and people accepted legal consequences as a cost.

    • alwyn 1.4

      "not to call in emergency powers like Prime Minister Trudeau has".

      Out of curiosity, is there any law in New Zealand that would allow the Government to follow Trudeau's example?

      • mickysavage 1.4.1

        Health Act has lots of powers. Police have existing powers now to deal with the protest.

        • alwyn

          I hadn't really thought about the Health Act.

          Thank you for the reference. I shall have a look.

  2. Corey Humm 2

    After the events of the last 24 hours, I'm with you, the reason I've defended the idea of this protest is because I believe homeless people should be able to camp outside parliament but these people…

    I love a bit of civil disobedience and I will always defend the right to protest even if I hate the protesters but this is no longer a protest it's an occupation.

    They don't wanna negotiate. They were offered free parking to help clog the streets at a venue five minutes away and they chose to continue having their cars disrupt the city.

    They don't wanna talk. They don't care about rights. What about the right to the worker whose immune compromised to be safe , the business owner to refuse service. They are authoritarian.

    This is not a protest it's an angry rabble of ferals attacking the very institution of Democratic governance and using their kids as shields.

    They are a small minority.

    They have speakers chanting to overthrow and murder elected parliamentarians.

    This is not the average kiwi. The average kiwi is shaking their heads.

    This is also exposing huge security gaps in parliament and NZ and some copycats will be looking at this with glee.

    They need to be moved by Friday.

    The army should cordon off the area, let people leave but no more get in.

    Greater numbers of better equipped police are also needed.

    This is the peoples house, they don't want to be a part of the people of NZ or engage in the social contract. It's not their house.

    We didn't sacrifice two years of our lives to have a small fringe minority of weirdos who look like the Avengers endgame version of Jeremy Kyle show guests force the govt to undo it. I agree with the major party leaders, theres no negotiating with these people.

    I was wrong to defend this as a class protest. Very wrong. Working class NZ is at work. This is not a peaceful protest many of the speakers incite violence and what can only be described as talk of terrorism.

    Noone took away their livelihoods, they refused to meet the health requirements for their jobs. They are afraid of a jab.

    If they can't be moved then it's time for counter protests to show these people what a small minority they are in comparison.

    I love COVID disobedience but this ain't civil disobedience it's a mob trying to inflict their beliefs on to us all.

    If there are so called sane ones they are now the outliers anyone associating with this action, with these thugs and having their children around these people in seriously bad weather using them as human shields are not ordinary kiwi's, they are cowards and complicit in an attack on the democratic institutions that lead this county and the millions of New Zealanders who elected this parliament.

    Move them on.

    • Whispering Kate 2.1

      Thank you Corey for firstly owning your change of mind about this occupation. I agree with what you have written. Its good to read a good expose on the current state of events. Everything you have said is solid. Cheers.

    • mickysavage 2.2

      Thanks Corey you were one of the people I thought about when I referred to impassioned comments. I suspect that the appearance of Whaleoil might have changed a few people's minds …

      • Corey Humm 2.2.1

        Thanks Mickey and Whispering Kate.

        I must sometimes come of as frothing at the mouth angry but I guess I get far too passionate and the blinkers get on.

        My instincts are always to back protesters but after seeing what we've seen… No way. This isn't a protest it's an occupation of a group of people who spit in the face of NZ.

        Other blogs have called them "the working class" which has enraged me, the working class don't have the means to travel and set up camp cross country and they certainly wouldn't be rising their vehicle being towed. Most working class people have greater risk and fear of COVID and have actually wanted more extreme COVID measures in my experience.

        The working class aren't dumb, they aren't dragging their kids to camp out and they certainly aren't listening to Slater and Tamaki. They are too busy working.

        Theres no negotiating with people who won't even remove their cars and whose first negotiating point is "resign and remove all COVID measures and open the borders"

        I don't know anyone on the working class left who wants the borders opened that's actually a position of the right.

        Regardless. This isn't a protest. The Pm is right to not negotiate and I may be angry at the govt but my blood runs labour red. I support her actions in not negotiating with them.

        The majority of this country has sacrificed too much to be held hostage by a small number of people.

        Kia kaha Wellington and it's workers (people always forget the working class security, cleaners etc are also going through this not that abuse is ever justified at work regardless of your job or class)

        From now on I'll try condense my rants these ravings are too long but thanks to everyone who reads them.

        *Also I meant I love a bit of civil disobedience for a good cause not COVID disobedience!

        • Patricia Bremner

          Corey, you are a gem. The Labour Party is lucky to have you. Yes Civil disobedience has its place. You are gracious in your change of heart about this group and their aims. What do you think of Seymour talking with them, against all the decisions by other leaders?

    • Ad 2.3

      Which chunks of land would not be owned by Maori if it were not for protester occupation? Let's start with 407 days right next to the shrine of Michael Joseph Savage.

      The left need to stop generating foolish lists of reasons that purport to define what appropriate protest is. The left are failing to get used to not owning the concept of protest, because the left are in power and have to defend it.

      This term actual full throated protest has been the preserve of the right.

      I would argue that Parliament grounds is the very best place for people to protest.

      It is on the same ground that our military victories are celebrated every year.

      This ground is as close to Tianenmen Square, Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, or Washington's Lincoln Memorial. This is in short where power ought to be contested outside the ballot.

      Protesters should be unruly, rude, and unhelpful. Their parking will be disruptive. They are often smelly, muddy, and incoherent. Not having a spokesperson doesn't delegitemise them. Nor does where they park their cars: if they are that convinced of their rightness then their cars will be towed and they will continue.

      If the left had their shit together we would have had the same scale of protest about housing, or about climate, or about water, or about Treaty rights. The fact that we don’t says our fire has gone out, but theirs hasn’t.

      All we are getting now is complaints about filthy incoherent yobs who don't know what they're talking about. That amounts to a bad case of Left Melancholy.

      Hey lefties: look in the mirror.

      This is what you used to look like when you had a soul.

      • gsays 2.3.1

        Heh, nowadays the left thinks protest action is cancelling yr Spotify account.

      • swordfish 2.3.2


        Systematic double standards + innate authoritarianism of the new identity politics establishment.

        Don’t appear to have a democratic bone in their body … pomposity, controlling behaviour & self-entitlement rather than easy-going humility & fair-mindedness … they thus bear little resemblance to the social democratic Left I was brought up with.

        Presumably a corollary of the long-term middle / upper-middle capture of Left organisations.

      • Patricia Bremner 2.3.3

        I don't remember threatening to kill or telling horrible lies about the PM in any previous protest.

        "Jacinda ArdernEats baby fetus" Well we mostly all eat eggs but that is not what was meant.

      • Robert Guyton 2.3.4

        "The fact that we don’t says our fire has gone out, but theirs hasn’t."


        Who are they?

      • weka 2.3.5

        If the left had their shit together we would have had the same scale of protest about housing, or about climate, or about water, or about Treaty rights. The fact that we don’t says our fire has gone out, but theirs hasn’t.


        The problems I have with the protest are the danger from covid (but thanks to the BLM protest in 2020 this is hard to argue), the presence of nazis, and the abuse. The first one is not technically insurmountable (someone could develop protest process that took covid precautions). LW protests don't usually have nazis or the level of abuse happening with the current occupation.

    • Ross 2.4

      We didn't sacrifice two years of our lives to have a small fringe minority of weirdos who look like the Avengers endgame version of Jeremy Kyle show guests force the govt to undo it.

      We sacrificed two years because some politicians panicked and chose bad policies, policies that were nowhere to be seen in the Health Ministry's pandemic handbook. Research has confirmed that lockdowns had little or no effect on mortality.

      The question is not about preserving life and promoting health at any and all costs; it is about how we balance risk on a population scale with multiple competing priorities of justice and ethical demands to consider.

      Structural issues are important to consider, of course. Covid has a disproportionate impact on certain groups – and we should be aware of this – but so does any aspect of public policy, from gambling and food policy to actions such as driving. Driving is much riskier for young people, yet we do not necessarily restrict everyone else’s habits to accommodate this fact. These questions of priority and aggregation are not new. Covid is not exceptional in this regard. Public policy is always full of complex moral considerations that require balancing and aggregation.

      Should we continue to listen to the scientists? Yes, absolutely. But we should listen to scientists about science, not necessarily about policy or morality. Science provides us with important empirical facts, but science cannot replace moral reasoning, and it cannot tell us what level of risk is socially acceptable.

      Scientists can present the predicted trajectory of an outbreak or explain the mechanisms of viral transmission, but they cannot tell us what we morally ought to do about these facts as a matter of public policy. Those are value judgements that require sober and rational moral and political analysis, personal introspection about our priorities and values, and reflection on what kind of world we want to live in.

      Life is full of risks and bad things, and we cannot make ourselves paralysed by them.

      Sober and rational moral and political analysis? That's what's been missing the last two years. Thankfully this “rabble” has focused our minds on just how bad our politicians are.


      • mickysavage 2.4.1

        Current body count because of covid per 100,000 citizens:

        Aotearoa – 1

        Australia – 18

        United Kingdom – 238

        United States – 276

        Which approach do you prefer?

      • joe90 2.4.2

        I reckon the UK based egg-head that wrote that shit can Go fuck himself.

    • Anker 2.5

      Actually Corey, I don't think it is the case they don't wanna talk. They are asking to meet with the Govt.

      Seymour seems to have met with some intermediaries and set down some terms for the rules of engagement. He has also condemned some of the protesters behaviours.

      TBH IMHO I think Seymour is showing some leadership here.

      • Robert Guyton 2.5.1

        "They" aren't asking to meet with the Government.

        "They" don't exist.

        It's a amorphous form that has no head, nor organic integrity.

        • mauī

          They have turned up and waited on the Government's front door step for over a week… but they have no intention of meeting with them??

          "They don't exist"- then you may have missed the small town that now exists infront of parliament.

      • Anker 2.5.2


        Police seem to have a good understanding of this situation and are trying to get cooperation from this group.

        They say the protesters have a right to protest. But you are probably right Mickey

        • Andrew Miller

          Obviously I can’t prove this, but I suspect the Police know they screwed up by not acting decisively when they had a chance early, that would have meant some inevitable physical confrontation but nothing that serious and other than a tiny hardcore looking for trouble over relatively quickly

          They’ve now dug themselves a hole and because it’s now far harder and a far higher risk of things no one wants to see happening (not to mention the licence it’s given for camps in other parts of the country) they’ve come out with this meaningless drivel about a ‘lawful protest’ to describe scores of people camping illegally, blocking the streets and engaging in other illegal behaviour so we ignore the fact they screwed up.

      • Andrew Miller 2.5.3


        There’s still people pushing this line with a (on line) straight face.

        The protest and their ‘demands’ is such an incoherent mish mash, quite what any discussion is supposed to resemble is anyone’s guess.

        It’s patently obvious that anything coherent that can be gleaned is so beyond anything the government could engage with, what the point of any discussion is is beyond me.

        How exactly is the government meant to establish the people they’re talking are nothing to do with or sympathetic to the people who apparently want them dead? And until that can be clearly established this I look for to the arguments in favour in having a chat with people who send death threats.

        When the inevitable’Yeah we hear you, but no’ came from any negotiations is anyone seriously of the view they’ll then bugger off thinking ‘We’ll, they heard us out’.

        It will be interesting to see how Seymour’s stunt ( and let’s be honest it was obviously nothing more than a stunt) plays with potential Act voters.
        Could be good strategy may be not. I’m obviously not short of a wintery day in hell a potential ACT voter so I’ve no clue.

        It’s kinda cute though that anyone thinks it make him look serious.

  3. Your article seems sensible, and proposes nice decorum for protests, Micky. But when people are really pissed off and angry then I think those rules can go out the window.

    I think we could all point to protests around the world that many of us consider meritorious that don't quite fall into the parameters of your article.

    • DS 3.1

      Small problem there, mate. The rest of the country is looking on at these muppets, and is itself getting pissed off and angry.

      • Lukas 3.1.1

        As someone in the sub-set “rest of the country”- you do not speak for me.

      • The Chairman 3.1.2

        Alternatively, for everyone of them that are there, there are many more backing them at home or at work.

        Did you not see the nationwide support the initial convoy received? People were lining the streets all over the country.

        And in Wellington itself, people are continuously beeping their horns in support as they drive by the Beehive.

        The support is massive with more and more coming in everyday.

        • Robert Guyton

          People love to watch a parade and also honk their horns, doesn't matter too much what the issue is. A parade through a town under the banner, "we're annoyed about stuff" is bound to attract a crowd.

          • The Chairman

            Yes, some people do like to watch parades. However, not many would watch and waive at a protest convoy representing something they abhor. Let alone hold up signs and banners showing their support.

            Additionally, I was just informed (thus it's anecdotal) there was a text poll taken by Newstalk ZB yesterday showing 95% support.

        • Andrew Miller

          And the fact that many of the organisers of the original convey left pretty quickly in disgust….

          It just reach the point of hilarity that there are still people trying to pretend this a ‘mandate protest’

          • The Chairman

            Many of the organisers of the original convey left pretty quickly in disgust….

            That's not my understanding of the situation. Were did you source that fake news?

            Before this protest a number here wouldn't even believe they have this much support. This protest is showing they are wrong.

            This protest has massive support. And is still indeed a mandate protest.

      • Anker 3.1.3

        I did the Stuff survey out of curiosity and it was almost neck and neck, although those who oppose the protesters were slightly ahead.

    • Anker 3.2

      agree tsmithfield. Remember the small plane that flew over Mt Eden Park and dropped leaflets on the field of the last Springbox game. In fact remember almost all those protests. There was a protest against the TTPA in Auckland a mere few weeks when protesters blocked streets in the central city by lying down. The complaints of Aucklanders who ended up in a prolonged traffic jam was memorable to say the least.

    • Andrew Miller 3.3

      Can you give us an example of a protest that involved civil disobedience we consider meritorious where the protestors didn’t expect to be arrested and routinely threatened and intimidated the general public?

  4. Jenny how to get there 4

    "….this will be a shock to many, there is per se no right to protest."

    "….from a legal standpoint my personal view is that claims by the Wellington protestors that their actions are legally protected are very misguided."

    No protests are legally protected. This is no shock to me.

    I have always known it.

    On the other hand civil disobedience is a time honoured protest tradition.

    In any stand off between the state and protesters, the amount of force (or not) used by the state to remove protesters engaged in civil disobedience, is a measure of a nation state’s humanity and concern for human welfare.

    The mass civil disobedience protests during the Arab Spring, revealed to the world the barbarity of the Middle Eastern states toward their people

    • Jenny how to get there 4.1

      The forceful eviction of the right wing anti-mandate protesters would set a bad precedent for forceful state action against Left wing protests.

      All civil disobedience campaigns are a struggle for the hearts and minds of the public played out in the public arena.

      What has civil disobedience achieved for the left?

      Tresspass and occupation of Council owned Bastion Pt. eventually sees the land handed back to it original Maori owners.

      The same with Privately owned golf course in Raglan and privately owned land at Ihumatao. Trespassed and occutpied.

      Protesters in small boats blockading nuclear ships in our city harbours eventually saw New Zealand become Nuclear free.

      Tresspass and occupations of football fields during the 1981 Sprinbok tour made sure that no other rugby tour of this country by the apartheid state ever happened a gain.

      • Andrew Miller 4.1.1

        As people keep pointing out to you and you for whatever reason keep choosing to ignore it, the moral authority of Civil Disobedience rest of two broad principles.


        1. The laws you are breaking are unjust.
        This applies to things like Bastion Point, as those occupying were of the view the land was stolen therefore claims they were ‘trespassing’ were unjust. The law has subsequently validated that position.
        2. In pretty much every case protestors engaging in Civil Disobedience understand and accept the consequences of their law breaking (even unjust laws) ie the expectation of being arrested, particularly if the protest involves some disruption to anyone who isn’t a direct subject of their protest.
        What’s happening at parliament doesn’t meet either criteria and given the threats, intimidation, assaults and other criminal behaviour the victims of which are ordinary Wellingtonians getting on with their lives, talking about this as ‘civil disobedience’ is a sick joke.

        • Jenny how to get there

          And I agree. What I am talking about here is tactics.

          Don't confront them on the forecourt of parliament.

          Take their illegally parked vehicles, and their protest will collapse.

          Who hasn't had their vehicle towed? If you live and work in a big city it will happen to you at some point. You just have to suck it up.

          If they shoose to fight for the right to block the surrounding roads they will lose the fight for hearts and minds.

          Which is what all civil disobedience occuptation and protests are all about.

        • Anker

          But of course Andrew Miller, the protesters think the laws i.e the vacinne mandates. are unjust. Who gets to determine what is a just law and what is unjust unless you see it as your role?

  5. The Chairman 5

    And this will be a shock to many, there is per se no right to protest.

    Now the vale is revealed.

    What do you suggest the Government do?

    Act with urgency and insert the right?

    Or would you rather see the police smash heads?

    • Robert Guyton 5.1

      Measures more subtle than sprinklers and playing the Macarena are being deployed to bring the protests to an end. I imagine much has already been achieved and the end result will favour the Government. There's a science to this and the "protest scientists" are not camping on Parliament's lawn; they're inside the building, in discussion.

      • Poission 5.1.1

        And as the protest scientists congregate others undoubtedly will be using the opportunity for their own economic advantage.


      • The Chairman 5.1.2

        Measures more subtle than sprinklers and playing the Macarena are being deployed to bring the protests to an end

        Didn't the police say it was complex and people could be hurt?

        Who would want that to be their legacy? Jacinda? The police commissioner? The world is watching.

        Additionally, any such move on them at this stage will only grow their number and strengthen their resolve.

        They are us. Hence, need to be treated as such.

        Jacinda needs to walk the talk and show some kindness and understanding. End of.

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