© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Christchurch protestors are "here until the mandates lift".

Azriel Taylor
20220216 200621 1200x900
Protestors' tents pitched in Cranmer Square  Azriel Taylor

Anti-mandate protestors are occupying Cranmer Square in Christchurch, following various other protests around the country.

Protest spokesperson Janelle Rudman has a strong message of intent, that Christchurch anti-mandate protestors are here to stay. 

A group of protestors have occupied Cranmer Square for two weeks.

They remain hopeful for their cause, with Janelle saying "we are here until the mandates lift, we're not backing down".

The good news that has come out for the group is the High Court has ruled that Police and the New Zealand Defence Force shouldn't be affected by vaccine mandates. 

"The mandates have been dropped for them, so that's just amazing. I hope it's a step in the right direction."

When asked about the group's vision for the future, Janelle has said that living like this long-term has become a serious consideration for many of them.

"For a lot of us, it has become a reality that we might not even be able to pay our rent anymore. Some of us were living on two incomes, and now we've got next to nothing."

"We had jobs, but we were forced out of them for making a personal choice."

With recent reports of violence and arrests following protests in Wellington, Janelle has made it clear that the group has no tolerance for any violence.

"We don't allow any kind of violence here."

"Every day we've spoken with Police and they've updated us, and checked in with them that there are no official complaints."

A local resident says the group are "passive and respectful, and I've been told that there are leaders who are keeping it under control."

Despite this, protests since November have made living near Cranmer Square stressful for some.  

"Well, we came to live here because we loved the ambience of the square, the green, the space. It happens to be a cultural and heritage space. We liked all that, we love being close to the art gallery and the town. Against that expectation, my experience here has been appalling."

Despite residents making complaints about various protests at the park, the tents and cars remain.  

"It's a feeling of helplessness," said the resident.

Police say they're closely monitoring the situation, and will continue to work with the City Council and with the group to resolve the situation.