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Friday, August 12, 2022

Tensions growing between rival groups at anti-government protest in Auckland Domain

Tensions are growing between protesters from the Brian Tamaki-led Freedom and Rights Coalition and a rival group at the Auckland Domain.

The two groups have been edging closer together since the protest began at 11am and police saw fit to intervene as some rival protesters faced off around midday.

A police line has formed as protesters from the Freedom and Rights Coalition camp move towards a smaller group counter-demonstrators.

Tensions rise between Freedom and Rights Coalition protesters and counter-protesters.

Jonathan Killick/Stuff

Tensions rise between Freedom and Rights Coalition protesters and counter-protesters.

A small number of counter-protesters have held firm, continuing to wave rainbow flags and play disco music.

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Police earlier warned road users to prepare for traffic disruption as a result of the protest, which has also resulted in the cancellation of several children’s football games at the domain.

The Freedom and Rights Coalition, led by Brian Tamaki’s Destiny Church, says it is holding a ‘Kiwi Patriots Day and March’ and farmers market, which was planned to start at 11am.

A man who identified himself as a security guard said the intention was to march past Auckland City Hospital and onto SH1 via Gillies Ave.

He said he hoped more protesters would arrive despite it being “a cold morning”.

A police spokesperson confirmed the Southern Motorway on and off-ramps at Kyber Pass were closed to minimise disruption.

Police form a line at the Khyber Pass Southern Motorway on-ramp.

David White/Stuff

Police form a line at the Khyber Pass Southern Motorway on-ramp.

Auckland City East Area Commander Inspector Jim Wilson said police were actively monitoring the protest to ensure safety for all involved and members of the public.

“Any unsafe or dangerous behaviour occurring throughout the event will be followed up by police and appropriate action taken.”

“Police recognise the public’s right to protest peacefully and lawfully but we will take action where required.”

It comes two weeks after the group led a protest along a section of the Southern Motorway between Mt Eden and Newmarket. No charges have yet been laid, but police inquiries continue.

The Freedom and Rights Coalition is protesting the government at the Auckland Domain.

David White/Stuff

The Freedom and Rights Coalition is protesting the government at the Auckland Domain.

This week the protest will contend with a counter-protest dubbed ‘FARC off Brian’ – a play on the Freedom and Rights Coalition acronym – organised by Mark Graham in objection of Tamaki’s “message of exclusion and hate”.

The Freedom and Rights Coalition says its protest is over “unworkable” regulations for farmers, “reckless” spending of taxpayer money and the “never-ending” lockdowns causing businesses to suffer.

It is also calling for better property market conditions for first home buyers, better mental health services, the protection of religious rights and tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) for indigenous people

A counter-protest “against hate” is also at the domain.

David White/Stuff

A counter-protest “against hate” is also at the domain.

As of 11am, conflict between the two protests had involved a competition over the volume of music with both John Farnham and Sister Sledge echoing on the Auckland museum grounds.

Counter-protest attendees were asked to protest in a fun, peaceful and non-violent manner and wear pink or bright colours.

“We will not be looking to prevent anyone walking on to the motorway – that isn’t our job. We are not looking for a confrontation, but to show that a diverse and inclusive community has a positive message for New Zealand,” Graham posted to the Facebook event.

The organiser of the counter-protest asked attendees to wear bright colours and be peaceful.

David White/Stuff

The organiser of the counter-protest asked attendees to wear bright colours and be peaceful.

Auckland Council director of customer and community services Claudia Wyss wrote to the Freedom and Rights Coalition on Tuesday to warn the group its event and farmers market may be in breach of a bylaw prohibiting events and trading in a council-controlled public place without a permit.

Wyss also warned that the group would be responsible for any damage to council property during the event and asked that they “honour the importance of those who have served our nation” by not occupying the Cenotaph and Court of Honour in front of the Auckland War Museum.

Additionally, it was important protesters not interfere with sports groups using the domain on Saturday.

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