The Canadian truckers who have been participating in the Freedom Convoy 2020 there have inspired protesters in other countries to stand up to government overreach in the name of COVID control. Even docile New Zealanders have set up a convoy in their capital city of Wellington to block streets outside the Parliament building as lawmakers are returning to work for the first time since last summer.
The group calls the protest their “Convoy for Freedom” and has come in trucks, RVs, and campers from all around the island nation. The protest nearly coincided with leftist Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s first speech to Parliament in 2022.
The protesters have said that they will not leave the streets of Wellington until the government there has lifted the highly restrictive COVID measures that have been imposed.
Ardern has refused to meet with the protesters and has told the press that she does not believe their views represent most New Zealand citizens. Her comments rang eerily similar to the statement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the protesters in Ottawa are simply part of a “fringe minority.” Ardern said that the majority of her nation’s citizens “have done everything they can” to protect each other, implying that strict compliance with government mandates is the only way that can be accomplished.
The Convoy for Freedom calls for an end to vaccine mandates for medical professionals, the police and military, and teachers. The group also demands that masking mandates in schools and public spaces be lifted.
Ardern has overseen lockdown orders in New Zealand that are among the most strict globally. The nation has sealed its borders, preventing thousands of natives who have moved to places worldwide from coming back to the country to see their families.
Press reports in Wellington indicated that the police have not arrested any protesters as of Tuesday but have asked the group to move their vehicles before rush hour in the downtown area.
City officials told the media that they are hesitant to issue citations or order the removal of vehicles because they do not want staff to be “put in harm’s way.”