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Police keeping a close eye on controversial Billy TK 'freedom rally' outside Beehive

Billy Te Kahika also hired his own, private security for the event.

Police and security were on stand-by this afternoon, as close to 100 protesters gathered outside Parliament for a "freedom rally," led by controversial political figure Billy Te Kahika.

Te Kahika was flanked by his own private security, which he had brought along to the protest.

In among the many signs – most critical of the Government, lockdowns and the UN – were a number of Donald Trump flags.

One of the protesters said she
One of the protesters said she "loved Trump" and the rally was about a number of issues. Photo / Jason walls

One protester told the Herald this morning that they "loved Trump" – that appeared to be the sentiment shared among a number of people gathered.

Another person at the protest was carrying a pink "Women for Trump" flag.

Before the protest had started, Māori council chair Matthew Tukaki labelled it an "alt-right, it's pro-Trump" event with nothing to do with freedom.

Despite this, neither Te Kahika nor any of the speakers mentioned Trump, the impeachment or anything to do with US politics.

Their comments were mostly aimed at the Government – objecting to the lockdowns and questioning the effectiveness of any Covid-19 vaccine.

Clinical trials for the vaccine are underway – medical officials around the world have urged people to get the Covid-19 vaccination to protect against the spread of the virus.

Te Kahika co-led the Advance NZ party, which won 1 per cent of the total vote in the 2020 Election.

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Given the storming of the US Capitol last week and the arrest of a person who smashed windows at New Zealand's Parliament with an axe yesterday, there was heightened security at the protest.

Protesters begin gathering outside Parliament for this afternoon's 'freedom rally'. Photo / Jason Walls
Protesters begin gathering outside Parliament for this afternoon's 'freedom rally'. Photo / Jason Walls

Parliament's security was out in force and there were police officers dotted around Parliament's grounds.

A police spokesperson said they had been made aware of the rally planned at the Beehive, and were in contact with the protest organiser.

"Police's role is to ensure safety and uphold the law, while recognising the lawful right to protest."

They added that the police would recognise the lawful right to protest, but were "ready to respond to any issues should they arise".

But Te Kahika brought his own security who followed him around as he spoke to his supporters, and stood close by as he spoke.

The rally was peaceful and there was no violence – but the speakers made a number of comments about Covid-19 which have been widely disproved.

After a few speeches, the battery on the microphone they were using ran out of juice so they had to crowd-source a megaphone.

This is not the first rally organised by Te Kahika – his supporters did one in Auckland earlier this week.

As with the Wellington rally today, there were a number of Trump flags.

A protest outside NZ Parliament gets underway. Photo / Jason Walls
A protest outside NZ Parliament gets underway. Photo / Jason Walls

It's because of that that Tukaki labelled the rally as: "alt-right, pro-Trump, with nothing to do with freedom."

"New Zealand is the standout country around the world right now, we have freedom of movement in the face of a global pandemic, we are able to move freely across our country.

"You still get to go to a tangi and a funeral, you still get to go see your moko that has just been born in the hospital. You still get to go celebrate that 70th birthday.

"So what exact freedoms are they talking about?"

In a Facebook post Te Kahika asked supporters to: "Unite and stand against the harmful, unnecessary and unlawful lockdowns".

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