A group of New Zealanders behind a free speech campaign are proposing to take Auckland Council to court after successfully raising $50,000.
The Free Speech Coalition started its fundraising efforts following the Council's decision to ban two Canadian far-right speakers from presenting at Council-owned venues - resulting in them cancelling their tour of New Zealand.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were due to speak next month at the council-owned Bruce Mason centre on Auckland's North Shore but Auckland Mayor Phil Goff made the decision to deny them access to city venues.
The pair are known for holding far-right views on topics ranging from feminism and immigration to Islam.
Pressure had been mounting on Immigration NZ to deny the pair entry with members of New Zealand's Muslim community and the Auckland Peace Action publicly among those expressing concern.
But the tour was instead cancelled when Goff moved to bar the pair access to Auckland Council venues.
Goff tweeted that council venues shouldn't be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions in a city that's multicultural, inclusive and embraces people from all faiths and ethnicities.
"Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant, and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues," he wrote.
"Let me be very clear, the right to free speech does not mean the right to be provided with an Auckland Council platform for that speech."
The Coalition then set up it's fundraising page, stating "We are raising funds to bring judicial review proceedings against Auckland Council, who we believe are likely in breach of the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act."
Today it said it reached it's fundraising goal of $50,000 in less than 24 hours.
"[We] will be engaging lawyers to bring judicial proceedings against Auckland Council for its ban on Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux at Council-owned venues," a public release said.
Chris Trotter, who is supporting the Coalition, thanked every New Zealander who supported the cause.
"We had hoped to raise this money by 5pm Friday. However, within the first day of this campaign we have been completely swamped by people pledging money to the cause – from $5 to $5,000."
Melissa Derby, another supporter, said they looked forward to setting a strong legal precedent.
"That shows the use of publicly-owned venue cannot be dictated by the political whims of those in power," she said.
"For us this is not about helping these particular speakers, but in defending the rights of all New Zealanders to express and hear controversial views."
The largest single donation was $5000, the next largest was $2500. In total, there were more than 700 donations in the last 24 hours.
The Coalition was created by a group of New Zealanders from across the political spectrum, including; former Labour Party Minister Dr Michael Bassett, former leader of the National and Act Parties Dr Don Brash, business leader Ashley Church, university lecturers, lawyers and political commentators.
Earlier this year Southern was banned from entering the UK after she antagonised Muslims by displaying flyers reading "Allah is a Gay God" and "Allah is trans".
She claimed the stunt was part of a social experiment to prove Islam is a homophobic religion.
Molyneux usually speaks on topics including anarcho-capitalism, politics, relationships, race and intelligence, multiculturalism, libertarianism, anti-feminism, and familial relationships.