It was an interesting mixture of people who marched in protest against the New Zealand Defence, Industry & National Security Forum in Palmerston North, Whanganui's David James says.

He was among Whanganui Quakers, Buddhists, Anglicans, Catholics and Green Party members in the march on October 31, from Palmerston North's square to the Central Energy Trust Arena where the forum was held.

A child's toy is hung over a barricade in Palmerston North, during protest over the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association Forum. Photo / supplied
A child's toy is hung over a barricade in Palmerston North, during protest over the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association Forum. Photo / supplied

The Anglican Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth, who lives in Whanganui, was among the marchers. There were also Muslims, refugees and Māori.

James estimates there were about 250 people who walked the 2km, chanting and singing. From his point of view, the protest was "something that had to be done".

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"There were a lot of people from other churches and a number of 'dog collars' on display," he said.

When marchers reached the arena, Quakers handed out a vegetarian lunch for them. Along the way some streets were barricaded off. Some protesters intended to blockade the forum and there was a large police presence to stop them.

The forum has attracted major protest in Wellington and Auckland in previous years. This year about 10 people were arrested on October 31 - two for assault and others for disorder and obstruction.

A Hamilton woman has said her arm was broken by police during protest action on November 1.

Protesters called the forum a "weapons expo", but an association spokesman said it was a time to talk about products, services, defence and national security.

Fellow Whanganui Quaker Deirdra McMenamin was also on the march, and was shocked to see barricades in Cuba St that prevented entrance to a women's health centre.

"There was heaps of police there blocking it. It's ironic in a nuclear-free peaceable country that people were employed to block access to the women's centre to protect the people who are selling arms around the world," she said.

People have forgotten that war is illegal and not a normal way to sort things out, McMenamin said. From Northern Ireland, she came to New Zealand for the chance of " a normal life".

She's aware this part of New Zealand has a lot of people employed in defence - at Waiouru, Ōhakea and Linton. She honours soldiers who want to love and protect, but said alternative income streams were needed.

"We should be training our kids to be diplomats and peacemakers. Healing and wellbeing is a growth industry, whereas war by its nature is just destruction."