* Sir Russell Coutts visits Parliament protest
* Ill protesters urged to stay away from hospital
* Protest groups at Parliament seen arguing over police discussions
* Timber boss: I'm a protest funder - here's why
Police are "appalled" by the behaviour this morning of protesters in Wellington that has seen three officers hospitalised after being sprayed with a "stinging substance", possibly acid.
They have also said there are reports of sexual assault at the site and have urged anybody concerned to come to police.
It follows an early morning police operation that saw a protester arrested for driving a car into a crowd, as police moved in on the occupation in and around Parliament, now into its third week.
Three officers were taken to hospital for a medical assessment this morning after being sprayed with a stinging substance yet to be determined, but all are doing well, police confirm.
"Other officers were fortunate to escape injury after a person deliberately drove the wrong way down Molesworth Street and stopped just short of colliding with them," said a police statement.
"Two people have been arrested for obstructing police and one person has been arrested for driving in a dangerous manner."
About 250 staff were involved in the early morning operation to further reduce the perimeter around the protest.
"Staff secured locations at Aitken, Molesworth and Hill streets to allow forklift vehicles to move the concrete blocks.
"The bollard line on Aitken Street and Hill Street was moved in about 50 metres, and about 100 metres on Molesworth Street."
Shields were deployed this morning following protesters' actions yesterday in throwing human waste at officers, and earlier today when they threw objects.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said it was "entirely appropriate" for police to use shields to protect staff from faeces.
Chambers also said there were reports of sexual assault at the site, and called for anybody concerned to come to police.
Asked if there was any hope of negotiating given the aggression towards police, Chambers said they hoped other leaders in the group would have influence. Police continued to work to de-escalate the situation.
He said the eight concrete barriers placed yesterday had been installed to control traffic flow, to stop more people joining and allow protesters to leave.
He said a steady flow of people left.
While yesterday there were around 900 cars, this number was decreasing.
On how long this would last, Chambers said they were hoping for days rather than weeks or months.
"The sooner that is, the better that is for everybody."
He said he was very confident the leaders of genuine protest groups shared that goal with police.
Meanwhile, the Government is still monitoring whether the Defence Force is needed at the Wellington protests, off the back of violent scenes at the occupation this morning.
Defence Minister Peeni Henare said no decisions had been made, but the Defence Force and Police Commissioner continued to engage "at an operational level".
"We'll continue to monitor that and I've said to the chief of Defence Force to make sure that in his discussions with the police commissioner about what their expectations [are] should we call in the Defence Force.
"But at the moment that's the police role."
Dramatic scenes of violence unfolded in the early hours of this morning as hundreds of police officers, armed with riot shields, advanced on the protest area around 6am.
What followed was an hour of violent confrontation as protesters faced-off against officers, trying to move concrete bollards closer to Parliament and reclaim Wellington streets.
A white car was driven into the crowd, allegedly by a member from the protest side, and an unknown substance was thrown into officers' eyes - a substance police believe to have been acid.
Police retreated from the area around 7am.
Police launched the early morning operation to reclaim the streets around Parliament, as the occupation enters its third week.
"Some officers are equipped with shields in order to protect themselves from objects thrown by protesters, such as human waste," said an earlier statement from police.
"A large number of protesters have attempted to obstruct police from moving the concrete barriers."
It comes as police moved in on protesters this morning, forming a circle at the intersection of Molesworth, Hill and Aitken Sts.
It's understood the more than 30 police officers at the Molesworth St blockade will reduce in number throughout the day.
Officers explained to protesters there was contact with protest leaders and security at midnight at the latest that this action would be done this morning.
It's unclear whether police notified protesters that riot equipment would be used.
Earlier, several people were seen to be arrested, including one man who was led away with a bloodied face.
Some protesters are chanting "shame on you" at the police, while others are singing Te Aroha.
Protesters were encouraging the crowd to stop and hold the line and let police back away, while most ignored this message, rushing towards police.
A woman, who appeared to be trying to access her car past the police barricade line, was shoved into a car by an officer with a riot shield, drawing cries of anger from protesters.
Officers blocked off access at the intersection of Hill and Molesworth Sts, using forklifts to move concrete blocks closer up Aitken St.
Earlier, protesters gathered at Hill St along the police line, with one telling the others the best plan is to hold up photos of their children.
Protesters could be heard saying "it's about the tamariki".
Police periodically advanced the line, pushing protesters back, in preparation for the moving of the concrete blocks further up Molesworth St.
A protester explained to the crowd that some kaumātua - presumably associated with the protest - had been aware of police's plan.
Many of the protesters, however, seemed to be unaware of the police plan, indicating a poor level of communication between those at the head of the protest and its members.
Police Association president Chris Cahill told AM that police were "tightening the ring around the protest" and moving the blockades in further, but he didn't believe it was any attempt to shut it down.
The reason police were now in riot gear today would be due to the reaction of a limited number of protesters to police such as throwing faeces at them or being violent towards them, he said.
A car being driven towards police will be a reaction to police putting the blockades up, he said.
"It's a limited but serious level of violence we don't want to see."
The 120 arrests police made a few weeks ago had the opposite result and led to a huge swell in numbers.
If police decided to remove those protesters, you could expect numbers to double overnight, he warned.
The aim of the blockades was to limit the growth and then police could slowly negotiate with those left.
Meanwhile, Wellington mayor Andy Foster said he had met with some of the influencers of the protest because he thought some dialogue with politicians would be valuable if they wanted to get a resolution.
Foster told AM he had asked protesters to stop expanding into the streets and not to camp near the cenotaph.
"This is a very dynamic situation and we've got to work out day-by-day the best way to respond to it."
The council had told police they would do anything they could to help de-escalate the situation.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he had no new insight into police operations this morning, but that officers are working to get things back to normal.
"I suspect what they've done here is move that cordon in a little bit at what is the northern end of the Parliamentary site near the cathedral there," he told TVNZ's Breakfast.
Robertson said this was no longer a peaceful protest and called on those involved to go home.
"This is a protest that has gone well beyond what I think most New Zealanders would see as a peaceful protest.
"You've made your point, please leave now."
Asked if there was any chance of discussion between the Government and the protesters, Robertson said they would not negotiate with people who were carrying out acts such as the illegal blocking of roads and throwing human waste at police and into the city's drains.
Robertson said a number of businesses in Wellington would be eligible for new support packages being offered - in relation to businesses affected by Covid.
He said the Government is also working with the local council to figure out how businesses affected by the protest will be helped.
He encouraged people not to go down to the protest, saying it was not "a place for people to go to spectate".
"Wellingtonians have had enough of this. Our streets have been blocked, our people have been harassed, our environment has been trashed.
"Whatever point the protesters think they might've been making, they've made it and now it's time for them to leave."
Red Stag chief executive Marty Verry, who is helping to fund the protest, said it was a way to get the Government to listen and make changes earlier than it otherwise would.
His main axe to grind was whether there was a justification to maintain a quarantine system at the border for international tourism.
He told RNZ he didn't condone the aggressive behaviour and was giving the money to fund the infrastructure to protest mandates which included the continual closure of the border for international tourism.
The amount he had given "was not significant" and included funding for food, toilets and shelter.
"I'm happy to fund protests, if protests make change," he said.
"I'm giving the money to try to get an $18 billion industry for New Zealand resurrected because it's unnecessary shut down and unjustifiably shut down now that there's so much Covid in the community and so little risk of it coming across the border with a RAT test regime."
The latest police action comes as "genuine protesters" are said to no longer be in control of the behaviour at Parliament after human waste was thrown at police officers.
The incident followed police erecting checkpoints early on Monday morning to keep new vehicles from arriving at the protest. The afternoon was largely calm but stand-offs flared again on Monday evening.
Near the Cenotaph shortly after 7pm, a scuffle broke out when police swooped on a man in the crowd. One man yelled up the Beehive steps asking for protesters to assist.
A man in the protest crowd set off fireworks at the intersection before other protesters grabbed the firework and handed him over to police.
Another man with a beer bottle in his hand started posturing and yelling "warriors" but a protester berated him.
"Are you here to mess it up for us all?" another protester yelled at him.
Across the road, a bus to Karori waited to get through with traffic backed up behind.
"Please clear the road, and police will have no reason to advance," a protester with a loudspeaker said. "There is no confrontation unless we make a confrontation."
An onlooker said the man pulled from the crowd was a troublemaker.
Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said the most antisocial aspects of the occupation showed genuine protesters were no longer in control of the behaviour.
"Spillage of effluent into stormwater drains, throwing of human waste at police officers, disruption and intimidation at the courts and the University are unacceptable".
Chambers said moves to close off the area around Parliament to arriving vehicles were proving successful.
About 5.30pm, dozens of police lined Bowen St and dozens more people watched from across the road as a dispute emerged over a white station wagon in the street.
A man took a close interest in the car's right rear wheel and then embraced a woman who appeared to be the vehicle owner.
Some tempers flared again on Bowen St about half an hour later.
"You better smash that film up bro, or you're gonna get done," one protester yelled across the road at someone he thought was a journalist.
Another protester urged him to be calm, telling him it was a peaceful protest.
The annoyed protester swore back at him and indicated he'd been hurt in the ribs in a scuffle with police.
A cyclist coming down Bowen St then gave the middle finger in the general direction of the protesters before 11 police officers left the scene.
Police previously indicated more local patrols would be carried out to reassure local residents, students and businesses, and keep traffic flowing.
And six protest groups said the vast majority of attendees were peaceful but the early morning police activity had agitated some on the convoy occupation's 14th day.
Nearby, the Supreme Court seemed to be cleared of obstruction.
The Chief Justice said that court, the Court of Appeal and Wellington High Court will stay closed this week — not due to the protest, but because of the pandemic's impact on staffing levels.
Earlier, Jacinda Ardern affirmed a position to not engage with protest groups but indicated some the traffic light system could be relaxed in a few weeks.
That would depend on the Omicron chapter of the pandemic behaving as it had done in some other countries — surging fast, infecting many, then subsiding quickly.
The protest at Parliament has attracted a wide range of people and visitors.
Former TV newsreader Liz Gunn, who has equated mandatory vaccinations with rape, was at the protest scene and yachtsman Sir Russell Coutts made an appearance yesterday evening.
Coutts told Newstalk ZB the national conversation around vaccines and mandates had lacked critical debate allowing people to share perspectives.
Ardern and Deputy PM Grant Robertson urged those who wanted to attend just out of curiosity to consider the impact the occupation had on local business and students.
"Whilst some may simply be interested, I think they wouldn't want to send a message of support for some of the messaging you've seen down there," the PM added.
"The police are trying and working very hard to enforce a barricade around the side. I'm sure you would not want to make their job any harder."
Robertson, Wellington Central MP, urged people to think of workers, students, residents and others who faced obstruction.
"If you're here because you're curious, think about the level of disruption that has been caused to all of those people and the harassment those people are currently receiving."
The PM said she believed most New Zealanders would disagree with the protester groups' demands.
On broader disagreements over policy, Ardern added: "I do not for a moment believe that differences of opinion mean that we are divided as a nation."
Six protest groups released a message indicating some protesters were agitated after the early Monday morning police action.
"As those of you who have visited the site previously will know, 95%+ of people present on site are mainstream New Zealanders demonstrating in an entirely peaceful manner.
"The vast majority of people here are highly aggrieved that they've lost their jobs, have vaccine-injured family members, and their children are very upset about what's happening to them at school."
The Combined Protest Groups called on the Government to take note of Australian Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce's comments about similar protests.
"The worst thing you can do to any substantial group that is isolated is tell them they deserve to be isolated," Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald.