Ugly scenes erupted in New Zealand’s capital on Thursday as hundreds of ‘freedom’ protesters clashed with authorities – with a naked woman being arrested after diving through a line of police officers.
Hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes carrying thousands of people drove from across the country began converging in Wellington on Tuesday morning to start the protests, inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy which has paralysed Ottawa.
Traffic slowed to a crawl as vehicles blocked roads around parliament and in other key locations, before taking to the streets to wave banners and placards demanding the return of freedoms, denouncing vaccine mandates, and attacking the Labour prime minister.
Crowds of hundreds then gathered in front of parliament to hear speakers and shout slogans, with some pitching tents and vowing to remain for the ‘long haul’. Ms Ardern said she has no intention of engaging with them.
Police created a barricade between the demonstrators and parliament buildings, and several violent clashes broke out between the two sides.
Shocking footage from the scene showed people attempting to break through the barrier, with several being arrested and led away including the fully nude woman.
Police had arrested more than 120 people and charged many of them with trespassing or obstruction by yesterday evening.