A letter to the protesters:
I watched your convoy hog the roads up and down the country. I saw you congregate in the grounds outside Parliament. I saw your vehicles parked around the cenotaph and your tents pitched across the grounds of Parliament. I wondered, who are you?
None of you wore masks, of course, presumably because of your natural immunity to a virus that has filled hospitals and crematoria around the world for the past two years.
Still, I looked at your faces because I was curious. I suppose I wanted to know what sort of people you are.
I saw a friendly young female police officer crouch to speak to a child through a barrier. The child was smiling. The parent standing behind answered the question what that child was doing there?
But I wonder if the parent reconsidered after seeing the company his child was asked to keep.
Nearby, a patched Mongrel Mobster. A Frankenstein made of everything broken in this country. What could this child possibly share with a man who has given up on language to bark like a dog. Mr Mongrel man, what do you fear? Contact tracing?
To the woman with the tanned face and blonde hair, I have to say I am in awe of your explanation to the reporter – "Simply by removing your face mask, voila the pandemic is gone." What fools we have been. Why haven't any of those so-called experts the PM wheels out for her press conferences taken the time to explain this?
To the person holding up the sign "Natural immunity 99.9% effective". If that were so, we would not have a pandemic, would we? Or am I missing something here?
Who are you people with your Trump flags? I have seen faces frothing at Trump rallies in the US. But that doesn't answer who you are. Are you a New Zealander? Can you really be?
To the older guy, about my age, in the dark top, number 16 on the back, who had tried and failed to break the police lines. Why? Had you lost something you wished to recover? You were handcuffed and after wincing at last some sense entered your face.
It must be embarrassing to be led away by police officers possibly younger than your own children. How will you explain your day in court to them?
To the person holding the banner "Born free", a simple explanation. We are not. We are social animals who live together and depend on each other.
To the three men sitting beneath a banner "We are here until this is sorted." Until what is sorted?
To the person holding the banner: "NZ is a democracy. Not a Communist state." I haven't seen a sign like that since nineteen sixty-something. So, I think I know who you are. But I thought you were dead already.
To the National MP who sent out a message of "thanks" to the rabble ... Oh dear. Where to begin?
To the older man with the long white beard and shorts wearing a large yellow star. You have not been alive long enough after all. There is still time to read and bone up on the Shoah. When you do, one day in the future you will probably stick your head under a blanket. Embarrassing, but yes. You did. One day back in 2022 you claimed equivalency between vaccine mandates and industrial slaughter of European Jewry.
To the voice screeching over a loudhailer "the media are guilty!" Guilty of what?
What is so disappointing about you all is your total lack of originality. The flags, the slogans, the put-upon grief. The anger. All of it downloaded from your toxic right-wing portals.
To those of you who claim vaccination is a "choice" you are wrong. It is not a choice. It is an obligation. You have no more choice to refuse a vaccine than you do to drive on the wrong side of the road.
The Prime Minister has shown remarkable poise. What must she secretly feel when she casts her eye over this rabble gathered under their absurd banners, and even more distressing, Trump flags?
Prime Minister Ardern says you are part of New Zealand. I beg to differ.
You are of New Zealand, but no longer part of it.
You have broken ranks, broken the social contract that the rest of us have adopted. We have lined up for our vaccines, to protect ourselves, and our families, yes, but importantly to protect others from infection.
I look back across your faces and I wonder again, who are you? What on earth binds you together?
The answer is now clear. It is clear to us all. It is clear to your friends and neighbours and work mates. It is clear. Your tyres are pumped with your obscene sense of entitlement. Rules designed to keep the country safe apply to others, but not you.
You've stood for what you believe in. But there – that's the problem. What do you believe? Freedom. But here's a question for you to consider. Is freedom to do the wrong thing a freedom worth having?
If you don't know the answer, and I have a funny feeling most of you don't, then ask the person you infect who ends up on a respirator in hospital. They will tell you.
• Lloyd Jones is a writer. His book Mister Pip was shortlisted for the Booker prize and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. His latest book is The Cage.