Police today have arrested three people allegedly participating in a lockdown protest in Christchurch and two others in the Far North accused of refusing to wear a mask in public.
"While the actions of these five people are disappointing, police continue to see a high level of compliance from New Zealanders under alert level 4," Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said.
Those arrested in Christchurch include a 56-year-old woman and two men, aged 50 and 46. They have been charged with failing to comply with a direction/prohibition/restriction (Covid-19) and are expected to appear in court tomorrow morning.
Police said the trio were among 10 protesters who gathered on the Bridge of Remembrance around 1pm. Everyone in the group was first encouraged to comply with alert level restrictions before police resorted to making arrests, Coster said.
Two people at the same place were issued warnings yesterday during a similar gathering, authorities said.
And in Kaitaia, a woman, 23, and a man, 44, were arrested at the local Pak'nSave. Police said the pair were acting "in a disorderly manner towards supermarket staff and other members of the public". Both also refused to wear a mask at the store, police said.
They were charged with disorderly behaviour and breaching the Public Health Response Act. Police also accused the woman of behaving in a threatening manner.
Today's arrests come after a raucous protest of about 50 people outside TVNZ's Auckland central studio resulted in four arrests including musician and former fringe political candidate Billy TK, who organised the event.
Billy TK, whose legal name is William Desmond Te Kahika, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf today at the Auckland District Court for charges of intentionally failing to comply with Covid-19 alert level requirements and failing to assist a constable exercising search powers under the Search and Surveillance Act.
Also appearing in court for the Auckland protest was Green Bay resident Vincent Christopher John Eastwood, 36.
According to bail conditions, both men are now banned from contacting each other and from being on the internet. The alleged crimes carry a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $4000 fine.
Police were also called today to confront snowboarders and others seeking to play in the snow at the Crown Range Rd summit, about 45 minutes drive from Queenstown. No arrests were reported.
Police reiterated today that they intend to take an "education-first" approach, but won't be shy about making arrests if that doesn't work.
"We all know what's expected of us by now and that it takes a collective effort to stop Covid-19," Coster said.
"Our communities are largely respecting the requirement to wear a face covering at essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies, and police will remain out and about conducting compliance checks and reassurance patrols."