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New Zealand police attack 'unprecedented' protesters on parliament grounds

Protesters resist police after rufusing to leave parliament grounds during the third day of demonstrations against Covid restrictions in Wellington 3 on February 10, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Police have clashed with protesters on the grounds of New Zealand's parliament, arresting more than 120 people who have laid siege to the legislature for three days.

The protesters, inspired by the “siege of Ottawa” where truckers caused a state of emergency, have led a convoy of several hundred vehicles to parliament.

They chanted the Maori haka and yelled "hold the line" as they scuffled with a line of police moving to clear an impromptu protest camp from the lawns of parliament on Thursday.

Police brought in extra officers from around the country, ripping out tents and pepper spraying protesters as they charged on amid cries of "this is not democracy", "shame on you". 

Some protesters and two officers suffered injuries, but the police made little headway in moving the protesters off parliament’s grounds, the Guardian reported.  

The sit-in is “unprecedented” on the grounds, Wellington district commander superintendent Corrie Parnell was quoted as saying. 

He said the police expect the protest will continue over some days, requiring a rolling door of officers to be brought in from other parts of the country. 

The protest began Tuesday as a copycat of a "Freedom Convoy" action by Canadian truckers, with hundreds of semi-trailers and campervans jamming streets in central Wellington.

The "Freedom Convoy" of truckers in Canada has gridlocked the capital Ottawa since late last month, prompting city authorities to declare a state of emergency.

New Zealand requires mandatory COVID vaccinations for people working in sectors such as health, law enforcement, education and defense, with those who refuse the jab facing the sack. Proof of vaccination must also be shown to enter restaurants, sports events and religious services.

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