Wellington City Council's chief executive expects the final bill to fix damage caused by the protest will be significant, but she says the biggest cost is the weeks of disruption to businesses.
Barbara McKerrow said crews have begun carefully cleaning up parts of the protest site today navigating bio-hazards, unsanitary substances, chemicals, flammable canisters, and damaged electrical connections.
"I think collectively we would all look at what has happened there and see in total, there must be a significant cost in dollar terms, expressing what that means for the City Council versus Parliament or the university is not possible for me to do.
"But between us, we're just pitching in together to restore the city to Wellingtonians."
The cost to council will primarily be labour, whether that was reprioritising existing staff or bringing in contractors to help, McKerrow said.
A large part of the site is also still inaccessible as it has been cordoned off by police, so the true cost of the damage won't become clear until that area can be inspected.
Work is needed to remove rubbish, undertake a deep-clean of street furniture and infrastructure, and to check and repair city assets in the area including roads, signs, lights and wastewater pipes.
All surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected given at least 20 cases of Covid-19 have now been linked to the protest.
Public art and sculptures will be assessed for damage by a specialist team.
Wellington Water inspectors will check and repair any damage to public water and wastewater infrastructure.
Despite the mammoth clean-up ahead, McKerrow said the biggest cost was the huge disruption to businesses in the area and throughout the city, as well as the disruption to residents, schools, and commuters.
Meanwhile, the council has also been working on pastoral care for protesters who have been displaced.
"Our community services team is helping with the welfare side, ensuring people who are looking to find ways to get home know where they can go for help and support to do that," McKerrow said.
A community clean-up is being organised to clear out rubbish and other waste. More than $11,000 has been donated for the effort via a Givealittle page.
McKerrow said those expressions of interest from the community to help were "fantastic", but the hazards on site had to be removed first.
Thought was being given to how people could make a contribution to what McKerrow called a healing process.
"The word healing has been used quite a lot because it has been not only for our city, but for New Zealand, a distressing experience for a lot of people."
McKerrow said people could expect streets to slowly open over the coming days once they were made safe, cleaned, and the mana and mauri of the area has been restored.
"There's still a real mess down there."