Protesters at Parliament say they've been offered the services of a "highly-experienced" mediator to act as a go-between with the Government.
Seven different groups protesting against vaccine mandates issued a statement tonight saying they were "extremely disappointed" the Government had yet to respond to their requests for an urgent meeting.
"On the traffic front, we have made significant progress moving vehicles in key locations in the CBD and any aggressive action by the police in this respect would be completely inappropriate. This is a sensitive situation but we are confident of a successful resolution," they said.
Earlier, police said they'd secured towing capability and were once again urging protesters to remove illegally parked vehicles as the occupation at Parliament continues.
Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers said good progress had been made engaging with group leaders, acknowledging the protest had now gone on for some time.
"We are making small steps. I can't tell you this is going to be resolved tomorrow, but we are seeing encouraging signs from that fact a small number of vehicles have left and there were no major incidents. We are making confident, albeit small, steps forward.
"I thank the people of Wellington for your patience and understanding.".
About a dozen vehicles had left voluntarily today. However, the influx of people today had meant more vehicles had arrived. He estimated there were about 450 vehicles in question.
He said the "positive engagement" with some in the protest group had focused on clearing those roads. It could not be a lawful protest as long as the cars were illegally parked, he said.
Chambers also welcomed public comments from some of the leaders expressing willingness to work co-operatively.
He said protest leaders did have "an understanding" that their method of protesting was very disruptive for the people of Wellington.
Chambers said police were thankful to those towing operators who have offered to help.
"We must remember the work we do here is in the interests of Wellington workers, students and businesses."
Chambers said vehicles "are at risk of being towed and seized. Protesters have had ample opportunity [to move vehicles]".
"Police are taking care not to escalate matters unnecessarily."
Asked why there was no towing today after Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said it would start today, Chambers said police needed to think about how best to manage the situation without it escalating, while dealing with the protest "influencers".
Chambers said it remained a complex situation, and some in the protest group had called for the roads to be cleared. He hoped others would adhere to that.
There has been an influx of people today, but it has been peaceful and no major incidents or arrests, he said.
"We are carefully stepping through the options we have to get a ... resolution."
He said the towing assistance had come from around New Zealand - including Auckland.
Police were still waiting for a formal response from the Defence Force.
Asked about videos showing Police being abused while walking through the protest area, and whether it was under control, he said he was confident the people Police were talking to were the "influencers" in the protest group.
"Our staff are working incredibly hard in a difficult situation, They too want to go about their jobs without being abused and given a hard time."
He said while the numbers at the protest had been growing today, it had been orderly.
Chambers was not aware of any staff catching Covid-19 while on the protest duty.
On Act Party leader David Seymour's interaction with protesters, he said it was not his job to comment on what politicians decide to do.
He did not believe police needed to be in the room with politicians.
"What politicians do is up to them."
Asked at what point it would have to change from discussions to force, he said while they were making some progress, police wanted to ensure they keep the co-operation they had.
"I appreciate it's not as quickly as people might like. We have to think about the safety of everybody."
He said the safety of people had to be taken into consideration when weighing up whether to take other action.
"There has been a small increase in the number of tents put up on Parliament grounds. It is our desire those be moved, but at the moment we are working very hard to open the roads."
He said the protest was well-supported with food and sanitation, but he did not think cutting off those supplies would get the outcome they needed.
"What we are asking protest leaders to do is encourage other protesters to move their vehicles."
"Blocking roads is not the mature way forward to resolve the issue they are protesting about."
He said police respected the right to protest, but the goal was to ensure law and order.
"The issue about mandates is not something for police to engage in, that's for the interest groups and the Government to discuss.
"We need to balance our tactical options to ensure we don't end up with a worse problem."
Police union fears more confrontation 'likely' with protesters if vehicles towed
The police union says towing vehicles outside Parliament is likely to lead to more confrontation with anti-mandate protesters in the week-old rally that has already seen ugly scenes.
Chantelle Baker, who has posted numerous live videos from the protest in Wellington, herself appeared fearful of violence.
"If you come and you start being aggressive, and you start moving all the vehicles ... and things get violent, people are going to come back even more," she said in a video posted to Facebook today.
The atmosphere among protesters has been more "relaxed" this week compared with last week, the Police Association said, but it could turn when police remove vehicles parked unlawfully at the grounds of Parliament.
"That's likely to lead to more confrontation and that's difficult for police," said president Chris Cahill.
"There will be guaranteed incidents on the face of it that might [not] look great, but that's the nature of the beast when you're trying to hold people back or remove them from blocking you doing things. There's no easy, simplistic way to do that.
"It requires a bit of man-handling, as simple as that, and that can be quite stressful."
The effects of the protest on surrounding businesses, schools and residents is "no longer tenable", police commissioner Andrew Coster said yesterday.
"The roads need to be cleared now or we will be towing vehicles.
"Vehicles that are towed will be seized and not immediately released to those who have failed to move them.
"Those who obstruct police efforts to clear the roads can expect to be arrested and charged."
Discussions on the possible deployment of New Zealand Defence Force assets remain ongoing. A spokesperson said no decisions have been made.
Four Army vehicles did travel today to the Wellington region from Linton and Waiouru.
They are being pre-positioned should they be required, but no decisions have been made about their use to assist the towing operation.
Cahill said he expects this action will make it harder for police "in the near future".
He said some protesters have been friendly to officers, while others are antagonistic.
"We saw the other day several officers actually assaulted, and that's a big difference from simply refusing to move.
"Certainly people have a right to protest but they don't have a right to assault officers.
"I would be disappointed if any of the protesters go back to that sort of behaviour."
Officers need to be prepared for the "long haul", Cahill said, because the practicalities of trying to remove protesters "just doesn't work".
"You've got lots of people, lots of children. While New Zealanders might be frustrated, the reality is I don't think they want police to be going in with fog cannons and things like that.
"I think clearing the streets so that Parliament can carry on their duties, while allowing these people to protest, is probably where we are going to have to settle."
But Cahill said the tone among the protesters has shifted and "eased off a bit" this week.
Former New Conservative leader Leighton Baker, who was among protesters today, told the Herald the tone is calm.
"It's the best party atmosphere you could possibly get. It's just brilliant."
He said fatigue has not set in.
"It's not the same people. Every day there's thousands of new people. We've cleaned out a carpark twice and every morning there's new people just turning up.
"It's a rotating roster, whether people are working or just wanting too. Strangers come along and give other strangers, take them home to their place for showers. It's amazing."
Meanwhile Baker's daughter, Chantelle, said "not one person is scared" about police towing vehicles.
"The one thing the Commissioner didn't bank on is the fact that these people, they don't care if the cars go ... it actually doesn't worry them in the slightest," she said in a video posted to social media today.
"What they do care about is just someone from Government acknowledging what is going on.
"So if you come and you start being aggressive, and you start moving all the vehicles and things do get agitated and things get violent, people are going to come back even more, and we saw that on Thursday."
Extra police staff have been called in from Auckland, Northland, Central, Canterbury and Southern districts to help with the police response.
Cahill said due to the extra resources, officers are not having to work "long stretches" and there has been regular rotation of police staff.
Officers from outside Wellington have been provided with accommodation, and this is incurring "significant costs", Cahill said.
"Police need funding for these exceptional events. There seems to be ones happening all the time in the last few years ... they put a real strain on police budgets."