Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Hundreds protest in Christchurch against lockdowns, vaccine mandates

Hundreds of Cantabrians have protested against Covid-19 lockdowns, restrictions and vaccine mandates, despite inclement Show Weekend weather today.

Despite just one active case in Canterbury, hundreds of vocal and passionate protesters marched from Christchurch’s Cathedral Square to Latimer Square.

Freedom was the catch cry of the day.

One man channelled Mel Gibson’s character of William Wallace from the movie Braveheart by donning a kilt and smearing his face with blue paint.

Others wore masks – but not those designed to protect themselves or others from the spread of the coronavirus under alert level 2 conditions – while revving motorbikes headed the march amid whirring sirens and cheering crowds.

“We say in Christchurch: No more levels,” a man on the loudspeaker urged.

“Too much levels [sic] come from too many devils.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the focal point for much criticism, with MAGA (Make Ardern Go Away) hats and signs dotted about.

There was no overt police presence. The crowd was restrained and peaceful.

A juggling clown atop a unicycle who whizzed past the head of the crowd was urged to take care.

There were many homemade, hand-painted signs, raising multiple concerns.

The main ones were a belief that the Government was taking liberties away from New Zealanders.

Placards included, ‘Stop mandatory vaccines’, ‘No jab: no job is wrong’, ‘Nz soldiers died for your freedom’, and ‘Row, row, row your boat, swiftly up the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, awaken from the dream’.

Some were worried about widespread surveillance and the safety of the Pfizer vaccine.

For information on the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine and other things you need to know, listen to our podcast Science Digest with Michelle Dickinson:

As the crowd gathered in Cranmer Square, and today’s announcement came that there were 175 new cases in the community and 85 in hospital, kids were hoisted onto shoulders, waving little NZ flags.

“You’ve gotta listen to the people,” the MC said in a message for Ardern’s Government.

One man holding a ‘No jab’ sign said they were gathering to try and “get Kiwis’ freedoms back”.

“It’s gone far too far. We’ve had a gutsful.”

The rain delayed a planned rolling motorway blockade but Freedom & Rights Coalition organisers vowed to gather again next Saturday.

A spokesman said they “want to keep the foot on her throat”.

“What we’ve done today is make a huge difference.”

They finished off with a Ka Mate haka and karakia before dispersing in the rain.

The odd passing car tooted and then the sun came out.

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