Anti-lockdown protesters gather in Auckland Domain for fourth time as museum closes

Protesters are gathering at Auckland Domain this morning for the fourth time since the beginning of October.

The Freedoms & Rights Coalition gathered at the Domain at 11am today and the Auckland War Memorial Museum has closed its doors as a precaution.

Today’s protest in Auckland will occur simultaneously with mass gatherings in Gisborne, Whangarei, Rotorua, and Hawke’s Bay.

Police have warned today’s planned protest will cause some disruption to traffic this weekend. Locations that protesters are expected to gather, including Auckland Domain, will be monitored by Police.

“Police recognise that individuals have a lawful right to protest. However,this should not be at the expense of restrictions that are designed to keep our community safe,” Police released in a statement.

Police are also reminding those who plan on attending the protests to “conduct themselves in a calm manner and adhere to COVID-19 level 3 restrictions.”

Police say any breaches of the health order or other illegal behaviour may be followed up with enforcement action.

The anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate protesters have previously met in Auckland Domain on October 2, 16 and 30 .

Each time they drew between 2000 and 5000 people.

Yesterday, ​​20,663 New Zealanders were administered a Covid-19 vaccine.

The organisation of the protests is aligned with Destiny Church and their leader Brian Tamaki and others have appeared in court over breaching the Public Health Act.

Tamaki did not attend the October 30 protest due to his bail conditions – however his wife Hannah did while live-streaming the event.

Following that Domain rally, thousands of protesters marched through the neighbouring Newmarket shopping strip – disrupting traffic.

A heavy police presence has been in attendance watching over each Domain protest, with some officers taking photographs.

A member of Destiny Church, Paul Thompson, was in attendance at the protests and has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Last Saturday, November 13, the Freedoms & Rights Coalition orchestrated a “Great Gridlock” protest which attempted to block Auckland’s highways with a motorcade of slow-moving vehicles.

Traffic was delayed on Auckland highways for a few hours as a result.

Auckland War Memorial Museum chief executive Dr David Gaimster said in a statement they would again be closing today as the protesters gathered directly outside their doors on the Auckland Domain grounds.

“In the current Government alert setting, large gatherings are a breach of the Government guidelines,” Gaimster said.

“The Museum has a responsibility for the health and safety of our people and our visitors, and we have a responsibility to keep this building and our collections safe.”

The Auckland Museum statement said that large numbers of people, often without face masks, and not adhering to social distancing was part of the reason for the closure.

“Our priority throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been to protect our people and the community we serve in line with Government and Ministry of Health advice,” Gaimster said.

“We apologise to those Aucklanders who may have planned a visit to Auckland Museum on Saturday. Like you, we are disappointed we will not be able to welcome you onsite that day.”

“At present, it is our intention to reopen to our public on Sunday 21 November, although we remain vigilant to the changing environment and are in communication with the Police should a further protest be planned for Sunday.

“If you are considering a visit to Auckland Museum on Sunday, we advise you to check our website before making the journey to avoid disappointment.”

On their Facebook page, the Freedoms & Rights Coalition describe today’s protests as specifically for those who have lost their jobs during Auckland’s ongoing lockdown for the past three months and the Government’s vaccine mandates for certain industries.

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