Defiant organisers of Auckland's Black Lives Matter march have defended their social distancing measures after copping widespread criticism for breaching level 2 rules.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she was "horrified" at the death of US man George Floyd - who died after being pinned underneath a police officer for nine minutes - and the resulting riots in recent days.

An estimated 4000 people turned out to the protest in downtown Auckland on Monday; marching from Aotea Square to the United States Consulate General in a show of solidarity after Floyd's death.

Thousands turned out to the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Auckland on Monday. Photo / Dean Purcell
Thousands turned out to the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Auckland on Monday. Photo / Dean Purcell

The organisers, dubbed Black Lives Matter Solidarity Auckland, thanked the legions of people who turned out to show their support that day.


However, spokeswoman Shalene Williams had other words for the Prime Minister.

'Jacinda Ardern, we are disappointed'

"Jacinda Ardern, we are disappointed that you did not condemn the murder of George Floyd.

"In fact, your tone and dismissiveness has been patronising and condescending.

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"Anti-black racism and white supremacy is real and affects various communities in Aotearoa. Speak up and extend your sympathy and kindness to all of Aotearoa."

Ardern told TVNZ yesterday that "[I] stand with everyone else in being horrified in what we've seen" when asked about Floyd's death and the riots and protests that have since arisen in the US.

The organisers have been criticised since Monday's protest - for flouting alert level 2 restrictions that mean only 100 people are allowed at public gatherings.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has been particularly vocal, saying the organisers should be prosecuted for the rule breach.

Give nothing to racism: A woman holds a sign telling how she feels. Photo / Dean Purcell
Give nothing to racism: A woman holds a sign telling how she feels. Photo / Dean Purcell

He has also used the event as an example of more and more people flouting current rules and has stressed the need for New Zealand to move to alert level 1 immediately.

But Williams said the organisers followed rules and did everything else right to keep those attending safe.

"We worked with Auckland Police to reinforce the social distancing message every 5 to 10 minutes.

"We handed out masks, had hand sanitiser available and followed contact tracing protocol."

National Party leader Todd Muller said today that the Black Lives Matter protests made a mockery of the Covid-19 alert levels.

"I totally understand why people wanted to demonstrate in solidarity … but the rules were very clear that we needed to have distinct social distancing and it wasn't actually just in the protests, it was in most of the malls over the weekend," he told RNZ.

"It was a wet [long] weekend and they were packed, they were cheek by jowl."

However Muller acknowledged that sending in police to break up Monday's protests would not have "served a lot of benefit for anyone, bluntly".

The dissenting messages between the Prime Minister and her deputy Winston Peters around the move to level 1 were confusing, Muller said.

Act Party leader David Seymour also wanted New Zealand to be at level 1.

"Why should people up and down the country follow the law, at great cost to themselves, when you've got a couple of thousand people there who obviously don't give a crap?"

Seymour said Ardern should have used her "vaunted communication skills" to send a message the protests were unacceptable.