Covid 19 Delta outbreak: More mass protest rallies for Auckland, Hamilton, elsewhere planned

A second set of protest rallies is set to go ahead across New Zealand including two cities that are currently in lockdown and affected by new Covid-19 cases daily.

The proposed public demonstrations are planned across New Zealand despite two organisers of last weekend's Auckland rally facing court action.

This week Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki and another unnamed man were summonsed to court facing Covid-19 public health breaches for their part in organising the illegal gathering in the city which has been in lockdown since mid-August. Tamaki said he would be defending the charges.

The protests are scheduled to take place in 10 towns and cities across New Zealand, including Auckland and Hamilton, which are both at alert level 3.

They include outdoor venues in Whangārei, where a Covid-positive person was identified in the past 24 hours, Mt Maunganui, Whakatāne, Gisborne, Havelock North and Wellington. Rallies are also planned in the South Island, in Nelson and Christchurch.

A prominent epidemiologist has dubbed the gatherings a "perfect storm", which have the potential to become super-spreader events.

Epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson said the events, particularly those in Auckland and Waikato, had a number of worrying elements that could help rampant infection spread.

"We've got the perfect storm.

"You've got a group of people very likely not to be vaccinated, very likely not to wear masks, very likely not to acknowledge symptoms if they've got them, and it has the potential to be a whole series of super-spreading events.

"The worst thing is is that many of the people attending those marches are the people most at risk if they get the virus."

He said those people should be talking to the "real" Māori and Pacific leaders and to stop looking on social media, which was filled with anti-vaccination misinformation.

Jackson also said police needed to take a strong approach to gatherings like this, arresting and charging all organisers before the rallies.

It comes as two people who are connected with the rule-breaking rally were summonsed to appear in the Auckland District Court next week.

The new protests are being dubbed by organisers as a mass public stand "for all those concerned with the state of our nation".

About 1000 protesters gathered at the Auckland Domain last weekend.

Currently in Auckland gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed outdoors and they must either be from two households if socialising or from 10 different bubbles for regulated group exercise.

When the rally took place on Saturday, restrictions were even tighter.

Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki revealed he was the 63-year-old man who was appearing on charges which related to breaching the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 and Alert Level 3 Order.

A second man, 57, was summonsed to appear in Auckland District Court in relation to organising the gathering at Auckland Domain a day later.

Police are still considering whether there will be further charges or enforcement action against others involved in the event.

"Police acknowledge that the taking place of this event was frustrating for our communities and we want to assure people that the police response on the day was planned and based on operational assessments as is usual for an event of that size," Superintendent Shanan Gray said.

"Police decision-making when it comes to these types of events will always be about community safety first and foremost."

A police spokesman said they were disappointed at the large numbers, and that organisers did not follow through on undertakings they had given police about how the event would be managed.

Tamaki addressed the crowd on the steps of the Auckland War Memorial Museum at Auckland Domain, protesting against the Government's Covid-19 restrictions in the city.

The protest was condemned by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland mayor Phil Goff, who said he supported sanctions against the church leader.


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