WELLINGTON PROTESTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Protesters are marching in Wellington today from Civic Square to Parliament's grounds.
• The march, led by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, brings together a series of groups with complaints about the Government.
• The protesters are planning on holding a mock court trial outside Parliament, the site of a 23-day occupation earlier this year which ended in a fiery riot and stand-off with police.
• A group of counter-protesters have gathered at Wellington's Cenotaph to challenge those marching.
• Tamaki announced a new political party joining forces with three other minor parties that hold similar beliefs.
A standoff is emerging at Parliament between the Brian Tamaki-led anti-Government protest and counter protesters shouting at them to "go home".
Tamaki's group arrived at Parliament just before midday and were shouting "freedom" - only to be met by their opponents.
The two groups jeered at each other on either side of a police line. Officers could be seen running to bolster the line between the two groups as they got within metres of each other.
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The capital is still smarting from a 23-day illegal parliamentary occupation which ended when riot police clashed with the crowd nearly six months ago.
Tamaki, of the Freedoms and Rights Coalition, is adamant his group has no intention of turning violent or occupying the parliamentary precinct.
With memories of the violent end to the last protest still fresh, additional police staff have been brought in from outside of Wellington, roads blocked, concrete bollards positioned and temporary fencing erected around the Beehive ahead of today's march.
A "significant" police presence is in central Wellington.
A convoy of anti-government protesters crossed the North Island bound for the capital yesterday, reaching Sanson around 7pm last night.
Inside Parliament, large black curtains covered windows on the first floor along the bridge between Parliament House and the Beehive, preventing both people looking in and out.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she did not intend to engage with protesters and urged them to keep things "peaceful and lawful".
While security measures have been put in place, Parliament's grounds will remain open.
Ardern said the security measures were a balance between the right to protest and preventing a situation like that in February and March.
"We did have a recent experience that came at great expense to Parliament and its grounds, so it's only natural to see those extra assurances in place to make sure that protest occurs in a way that doesn't leave significant damage in the aftermath," Ardern said.
Tamaki told the Herald yesterday afternoon that he did not want any violence at the demonstration and would have men working as security.
"I've got good people who are doing good security ... we don't want any violence," he said.
Tamaki said he was not involved in the previous protest, saying he had been involved in 150 other protests and "not one single one was violent".
Asked if he was going to "occupy" the Parliament space today, Tamaki said "no way".
"We're there for a day. The police know this. There's no occupation. Any tents that come out ... even my guys will be telling them [to] put them away."
Tamaki said he thought the protest would end about 2pm but said if somebody else "pops up and goes off the back of this, that's not our responsibility".
Scores of Wellington office staff and students have been given the option to work from home to avoid the march.
February's protest temporarily closed Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea campus, which is near the Beehive, while its bookshop Vic Books has shut up shop for good.
A university spokesperson said the campus would remain open today, but vehicle entry gates to the Old Government Buildings had been closed.
"Staff and students have been informed of the planned protest and may choose to work or study remotely if they prefer.''
Wellington mayor Andy Foster said his message to those involved was to "play within the rules". About 1000 people were expected, give or take, he said earlier in the week.
He expected the protesters to march from Civic Square to Parliament where they would say their piece and then leave again.
"People should keep calm about what is likely to happen and be reassured that if anything happens that we are not expecting, there are resources and plans to be able to deal with it straight away," Foster said.
He added the council had been in touch with police to provide "overflow parking" for protesters if necessary. Road closures included the Parliament end of Lambton Quay, lower Molesworth St and Kate Sheppard Place.
During February's protest, some of the protesters' vehicles clogged streets and hundreds of tickets were issued by parking wardens.
From 10am, protesters are expected to march from Civic Square to Parliament before "the people's court" convenes at 11am.
The verdict — as it has been dubbed online — will be delivered at 1.30pm.
Yesterday, Interislander sailings on the Aratere ferry were cancelled due to urgent repairs, meaning it had no passenger sailings for the rest of the day, which could affect any protesters making their way to the capital from the South Island.
The protest convoy left Auckland yesterday morning and was escorted over the Auckland Harbour Bridge by police. Up to 100 convoy vehicles were seen driving together across three lanes along Auckland's Southern Motorway.
Members of the convoy waved to each other as they held New Zealand flags out their windows.
Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell said police respected the right to lawful protest but any behaviour deemed unlawful or that disrupted people from going about their lawful business would not be tolerated.
"There will be a significant police presence around Wellington City ahead of planned protest activity.
"Additional police staff have been called in from outside of the Wellington Police District and plans are in place to respond if required."
Parnell urged commuters and people who work or move through the area to plan ahead.
"While we anticipate the traffic disruption to be minimal, there will be more people in the area, which may cause some delays," he said.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said there was a sense of trepidation among some businesses ahead of today.
At least 50 Wellington firms got relief payments after the disruption of the February's protest, which forced some to close completely.
"There's a little bit of muscle memory from the last protest that makes people anxious," Arcus told the Herald.