Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit out at Brian Tamaki and those who attended a mass anti-lockdown protest at Auckland War memorial Museum on Saturday, labelling their actions "morally wrong".
As many as 2000 anti-lockdown protesters gathered, with the crowd ranging from gang members to grannies. There were families - including with young babies - on picnic chairs.
Others included people in wheelchairs and some walking dogs, while a series of motorbikes were parked to the side along with two or three tractors.
When asked about the protest, Ardern said the protest was "a slap in the face" to Aucklanders who had been following the rules for weeks.
Asked about police's response to the protest in Auckland yesterday, Ardern said it was an operational matter for police. "Very important that I don't step into their decision-making." She said she had faith in the police.
Ardern was quizzed about whether there should have been arrests, but again said it was a police matter.
However, she confirmed their protest was illegal and said her opinion on the matter was that they have let down not just Aucklanders, but the rest of the country.
Ardern didn't rule out action against the protesters saying she understands police were still considering what to do with those who had broken the rules.
She disagreed with the assertion that there was one rule for Brian Tamaki and a different rule for everyone else.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield also weighed in on the protest, saying it's "frustrating" and "disappointing".
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Tamaki and his followers' actions have been labelled highly irresponsible by epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker.
And Te Pūnaha Matatini Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said the actions of the protesters to go out and break the level 3 rules designed to protect Aucklanders was disappointing.
"It does create the risk that the virus is able to spread. It undermines our collective response," Plank said.
Baker said when Auckland was making big sacrifices to maintain the Covid-19 outbreak the protest action was not helping.
He said there was a chance an infectious person attended the event, but the level of risk was hard to estimate and it could be a case of good or bad luck for the virus to spread.
The positive side was the event was not indoors, reducing the potential for super-spreading, but a concern was people travelling in groups and holding gatherings before and after the event. It also created a precedent for more rule-breaking, Baker said.
Tamaki thanked the police for working with him to make it a "peaceful but powerful day".
Tamaki's message to the Government was: "We've had a gutsful."
The protesters who showed up today were bringing an important message that "we are taking back our country", he said.
"Today we are facing a Government we thought we could trust. Instead they are stripping away the freedoms and rights of everyday Kiwis."
He said he believed the Government didn't know what to do next and had run out of ideas.