- New Zealand officials activated the sprinklers to drive off anti-vaccine mandate protesters.
- Demonstrators responded by digging trenches to divert the water away from their tents.
- Hundreds of anti-mandate supporters have occupied grounds outside the nation’s parliament this week to oppose COVID-19 rules.
When anti-vaccine mandate protesters showed up to New Zealand’s parliament on Friday, officials activated the sprinklers to drive them off.
But demonstrators have responded to the inconvenience by digging trenches to redirect water away from tents, according to local media reports.
Hundreds of anti-mandate supporters have occupied the grounds outside the nation’s parliament in Wellington this week, The New Zealand Herald reported.
New Zealand already has most of its eligible population fully vaccinated at 94%, according to the country’s health ministry, but there has been growing opposition to COVID-19 rules in various countries.
“No-one who is here is here legally, and if they’re getting wet from below as well as above, they’re likely to be a little bit less comfortable and more likely to go home,” Speaker Trevor Mallard, who issued the sprinkler order, told local media in a statement on Friday.
Mallard added: “Some people have suggested we add the vaccine in the water, but I don’t think it works that way.”
New Zealand Police Superintendent Corrie Parnell said in a statement on Friday that police will “monitor and contain protest activity at Parliament grounds.”
“Police have identified a range of different causes and motivations among the protestors, making it difficult to open clear and meaningful lines of communication,” she said.
A number of protesters have been arrested after clashing with police, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Many demonstrators, the paper said, have drawn inspiration from Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” trucker protests, which have left Ottawa in gridlock and forced Ontario to declare a widespread state of emergency on Friday.
In mid-January, thousands of Canadian truckers began to protest the country’s COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccination requirements by shutting down major thoroughfares and US-Canada border crossings.
But the protests have since evolved into a general display of resistance from right-wing Canadians, who oppose pandemic measures and their government’s response to the crisis.
And the influence of these demonstrations has clearly made it beyond the country’s borders.
Dozens of groups are using Telegram to discuss organizing trucker convoys to protest vaccine mandates in Washington DC and around the US, Insider previously reported.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that convoys protesting vaccine mandates could begin as soon as Super Bowl weekend.
And in Europe, a handful of cities are threatening “Freedom Convoy”-inspired protesters with jail time in the hopes of avoiding blockades like in Canada.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.