A group that has been protesting at a Whanganui roundabout every Sunday for the past two months believes the Government's Covid-19 legislation contravenes human rights.

The Covid-19 Public Health Response Act, enacted in May, allows police to enter premises without a warrant to enforce alert level rules.

Powers under the act have not been used in Whanganui so far, Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan says, and to Te Tai Hauaūru MP Adrian Rurawhe's knowledge they have only been used twice in New Zealand: once to break up a student party that exceeded the level 2 limit for gatherings.

"The police just went in there and shut the party down. No one got arrested, but [the legislation] gave them the authority to shut it down."


Police have generally handled the pandemic situation well, working with Iwi and health authorities and encouraging rather than enforcing, Rurawhe said.

Philip Cranshaw, who is one of the organisers of the Sunday protests at the intersection of London St and Purnell St, was pleased to hear that.

"I have great confidence in the police," he said. "They have stopped at our protest a few times and been quite happy."

About 20 people were at the protest last week and Cranshaw said they planned to continue each Sunday until the law is reviewed.

The protest has also attracted those protesting against the 5G network and 1080 poison drops but Crawshaw doesn't mind, as long as the main focus is on the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act.

It allows police and other enforcement officers to enforce quarantine or isolation, or require medical testing, or prevent large gatherings.

It was passed under urgency and Crawshaw said the Government could have consulted more.

But Rurawhe said Government was under pressure at the time, was facing an unknown situation and was trying to keep the community safe.


Using the legislation to manage New Zealand's borders is "quite reasonable", Cranshaw said, but the requirement to report for medical examination, for example, goes too far.

He said the act could be used to target certain sectors of society, it could be misused and did not fit with New Zealand's liberal, democratic society.

Philip Cranshaw is one of the organisers of the protest. Photo / Laurel Stowell
Philip Cranshaw is one of the organisers of the protest. Photo / Laurel Stowell

The legislation does have potential to be abused, Rurawhe acknowledged. But strong protections were built into it - including the fact that it is temporary.

"I believe the mechanisms that are in place would ensure that [abuse] didn't happen."

Cranshaw would like the legislation repealed, or at least amended. He made one of the 1300 submissions to the Government inquiry - a substitute for the select committee stage - held into the act.

The legislation is to last two years, or until Covid-19 is under control. The need for it is to be reassessed every 90 days; the next "refreshment" is on July 27.