Manukau Courier

In the red corner

- ArenaWilli­ams ManurewaMP, Labour

The occupation of Wellington central by people using threats of violence to demand the end of measures which have kept New Zealanders safe during this pandemic is not peaceful, and it is not a protest intended to changes minds.

Iwant them to leave.

Iwas on a video-call with my daughter when I saw the words ‘‘hang them’’ written across the pavers belowmy office.

I asked my father to mention our essential workers and those Kiwis who have suffered incredible losses because of Covid-19, in his evening karakia. It felt right to acknowledg­e everything this pandemic has taken from us, and to give thanks for those peoplewho have saved lives in the face of the extremism I saw that afternoon.

This is not like any protest I have seen before. It is driven by false, dangerous conspiracy theories and people with an extreme agenda.

The people involved have a right to make their voices heard at Parliament, but when they threaten and harass public servants on the way to work, scare students on their way school, and bully checkout operators at a Thorndon supermarke­t, they lose that right.

Amid Trump flags and a Swastika painted blood-red, this is a style of activism imported from overseas. School kids have been spat at and harassed for wearing masks, blocked roads have delayed emergency services, and nearby businesses have shut because their workers were unsafe.

I amconcerne­d about the misinforma­tion coming from this group. Misinforma­tion around Covid-19 is not unique to New Zealand, but it does work against us at a time when we need to pull together.

We all agree that there will come a time when we don’t need vaccine passes and there’s no longer a strong public health rationale for mandates. That time has not come yet. We must hold the course and continue to encourage our friends to be vaccinated and boosted, and to scan in, mask up and keep our distance.

This group only represents the views of a tiny minority.

The other week Northland DHB reached 90 per cent first dose vaccinatio­n rate, and with that, every DHB across the country has now hit a target that many thought would be impossible.

And New Zealand reached amilestone of 10 million Covid-19 vaccines administer­ed. This is New Zealanders protecting themselves and each other.

We are doing so incredibly­well – thank you. Don’t give up.

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