Herald political reporter Michael Neilson and photographer George Heard document how a protest at Parliament has evolved into a village.
From a protest to a village
On day one they arrived from across the country in disparate groups with disparate messages and motivations, with little idea even of how long they'd be there - most didn't even bring tents.
The only thing holding them together was a collective goal of ending vaccine mandates, and a belief they and other pandemic-related regulations were a stepping stone to the end of freedom as we know it.
By day 10 however the kinks had been ironed out, and the one day of heavy police action that saw 122 arrested ended up unifying those gathered at Parliament rather than provide any kind of deterrence.
Protesters spoken to said that day, last Thursday, was the day that really brought them together.
Since then the numbers have soared, many citing the videos of those arrests and altercations as their catalyst.
Cars and vehicles and campervans have taken over surrounding streets, and tents covered every blade of grass at Parliament and in the surrounding area (much of it now covered in straw to mop up after the weekend's weather and sprinklers courtesy of the Speaker).
Threats from police to move them on and to tow those vehicles have so far proven empty.
Steep slopes previously seen as unsuitable to camp on are now regarded as "prime real estate", one protester told the Herald.
Ten days in the camp resembles a village, with ablution blocks, well-stocked pantries and a food preparation and distribution service run with military precision.
There are multiple hot shower set-ups, a daycare centre, medical tent and even a massage station with trained osteopaths on hand.
There are three stages, including an open mic set-up that's seen more than 50 performers over the past few days.
These have been set up and are run by the many former professionals - from teachers to nurses to chefs and engineers - who have walked away from their livelihoods to defend a cause they believe in so strongly they have camped out through a former cyclone.
Questions about police threats to tow their vehicles are met with laughter - they have no plans to go anywhere any time soon.
Food for all
Anna Tripp came with the convoy from Kaitaia on day one, last Tuesday.
She's been volunteering for the past few days at the food distribution centre.
Normally Molesworth St is a busy thoroughfare, with a mixture of civil servants and MPs and businesspeople.
Today it is chocka with vans and campervans, and several marquees directly under which a feast is served to the masses just outside the gates of Parliament.
The cooks and sous-chefs start up about 6.30 in the morning and run well into the evening.
There is almost always a long but cheerful line with dozens of hungry protesters waiting patiently, many with their smartphones in hand either livestreaming or video chatting enthusiastically to those unable to be there physically.
As we speak to Tripp trays of bread arrive, along with chilly bins full of meat and boxes upon boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables - even avocados.
"It's been pouring in from everywhere," Tripp says.
"We have donations from people onsite, donations from businesses, from restaurants and catering services, there's even money coming in to purchase more food and resources, money from overseas too."
Donors in Canada - the protest is inspired by one similar in Ottawa - have also been supporting their efforts, Tripp says.
Protesters themselves have come and gone, heading back to their own communities to collect food and resources and returning, Tripp says.
"Yesterday we had so much meat. Hunters come in with chilly bins full."
The food is prepared in various tents, and cooked over donated barbecues.
Kitchens and the fridges and freezers of nearby supportive restaurants have even been used.
Tripp, a teacher by trade, says their team includes chefs affected by the vaccine mandates through to lawyers and plumbers and builders.
"We have to be creative with what we get. But yeah, there's been a lot of sausages."
Tripp said the organisation really came together about five days ago, as the different skill sets naturally found their places.
"I'm not religious but observing it come together over the past few days, it was like a biblical event, you can see everything coming together.
"It's amazing, we're just ordinary Kiwis with different skills to share.
"It is very much marae style, everyone mucking in."
They even have vegetarian options and inside the gates there is vegan food run by Hare Krishna.
Protesters keeping clean
There are about a dozen or so portaloos in the vicinity. These arrived after a few days.
One set is at the corner of Molesworth St and Lambton Quay, and another outside Parliament gates on Molesworth St.
They have been donated to the cause and are cleaned four times a day (the Herald can confirm).
Ren Haskell is an engineer from Whangārei, and arrived with the convoy last Tuesday.
Over the weekend she set up a hot shower run from the side of her van where she sleeps.
Water is supplied by a nearby church (they apparently relented after seeing so many children at the occupation) but needs to be poured into drums and carried the 100 metres or so down the road.
"It gives them a good workout," Haskell says, of those picking up and dropping off 20-litre drums as we speak.
The makeshift shower consists of water drums and pipes taped together using a combination of solar and gas and gravity, with a blue tarpaulin to offer privacy.
Water from the shower, which has a thermostat, can get up to 47C, Haskell says.
"But it's been so hot lately some people have been just using it to cool off."
Haskell says it has been very popular, particularly since the remnants of a former tropical cyclone tore through over the weekend.
Last night several people had to use it in the middle of the night after a woman had a seizure and was sick.
"She'd been working so hard and had just forgotten to take her medication."
Even homeless people have been making use of the shower, Haskell says.
"Everyone's loving the fact that they're making history having a shower in front of Parliament.
"That's been the biggest thing, people getting photos coming out like 'I just had a shower on Parliament'."
Haskell was also involved in setting up the "Laundry Angels", run by a network of volunteers.
Dirty laundry is dropped off in bags at the corner of Molesworth and Hill St, and picked up by the "angels" and washed, dried and folded - sometimes even ironed too.
"After the cyclone we had people arriving all day with their wet and dirty blankets and towels and clothes," Haskell says.
"But it was amazing, as quickly as it was being dropped off people were collecting it."
'The only festival in New Zealand'
There are three areas where music is played throughout the day and into the evenings, likely the reason behind various memes labelling the protest the only festival currently running in the country.
The main stage is front and centre, on the famous steps to the Parliament forecourt and under the watch of the Speaker's office.
It is here where various figures have addressed the crowd throughout the day, along with musicians.
To the right of the main stage is a band stage, set up under a large marquee, where musicians play throughout the days and into the evenings.
A local Wellington musician, who declined to give his name, said it all started when various people were keen to play some music at the site.
"There wasn't a very good set-up, so we went down to Bunnings and bought some plywood and got some pallets and carpet and laid down a stage.
"We've got some PA gear donated, and put together a whole system. It's just a collaboration of music mates from around Wellington."
For the past few days they've been running an open mic set up where people register their names on a whiteboard.
About 50 performers had taken part, he said, from solo musicians to reggae bands and even a range of DJ sets.
"To be honest I don't know much about what has been going on elsewhere, I've been tunnel vision with this.
"It's been very organic and that's the best way, there is just such a good vibe here. And I think it is really good people have stuck to the no alcohol policy. People are just passionate about the cause."
Elsewhere an administration tent is set up, along with a medical centre providing basic first aid and several tents for children, with toys and face paint.
Near the Hare Krishna set-up is a drum circle that seems to never stop. Yoga sessions are run regularly. There is even a tent with massage tables and osteopaths at hand.
In between are the hundreds of tents. Initially they stuck to the flat areas, but now even the slopes are covered as demand starts to outstrip supply.
Families have set up camp outside the Victoria University law school across the road, and along various streets surrounding Parliament.
There are even tents in the middle of previously well-manicured gardens.
The mood has changed?
Haskell said the mood of the protest had evolved greatly over the past 10 days.
"When we first got down here there was this mixture of, 'Are we really going to do this?'
"Initially I thought there might be only five of us, then another five arrived, and then 20 and then we could see more for miles.
"When we got here, we still didn't know what was going on. There were still mixed energies, didn't know other people and people kind of stuck to their group and families.
"But we soon realised we were here for the same thing, got stuck in and realised this could be more than one day. And our feelings have just got stronger and stronger."
Haskell said while initially there had been some more aggressive types, seeing the arrests on Thursday and force used by police brought the disparate groups closer together.
"The more the days unfolded, seeing it happen again and the injuries brought us together.
"We're not angry at the police. We just wanted to get back to our cause. And so we made a conscious decision to not send anger, to get back to our focus."
Asked if they had any plans to move on and the threats from police about their cars being towed, Haskell said it had moved past that.
"I think we've been hurt so much. We've been promised so much. We've gone past the threats.
"A lot of people here feel they've got nothing left to lose, so if our car is going to get towed they feel well, you're taking our life anyway. It's a small, material thing to lose."
Based on first-hand experiences of the Herald team of journalists and photographers, violence and intimidation remains, fuelled by misinformation and distrust of any form of authority.
There have been numerous reports still of journalists being harassed along with politicians and other members of the public.
You don't need to look too closely at the otherwise colourful chalk wall to see veiled threats and even references to white supremacist movements.
A noose hangs in a tree, and signs are omnipresent with threats to lynch politicians and journalists.
Then there are the thousands of messages permeating online and in social media channels, mostly anonymised, promoting even darker realities.
For most gathered on the ground at Parliament though they have vowed to remain peaceful, and have found a sense of community missing from where they normally reside, where they are seen as outcasts.
Of those aged over 12 less than 4 per cent of the eligible New Zealand population remains unvaccinated against Covid-19, and polls have shown strong support for the use of mandates as a public health measure.
But not here. Here the minority is well in the majority, and they appear to have made it home as a result.