Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned those responsible for the violence in Parliament today. “We will never excuse it. It was an attack on our frontline police. It was an attack on our parliament. It was an attack on our values and it was wrong,” she said at a press conference at the Beehive tonight.
“One day it will be our day trying to figure out how a group of people could succumb to such savage misinformation.”
“When we think back to this time in our history, I hope we remember one thing. Thousands more lives have been saved in the last two years because of your actions as New Zealanders than on the lawn of Parliament today.
Seeing fires started by protesters today, Ardern said she was “both angry and deeply saddened”. “It demonstrates one of the reasons why we refused to engage with this group,” she said.
“I am absolutely committed to restoring these lands and we will not be defined by the actions of a small group of people.
“There are words I can’t use for what I saw today. Witnessing the howl of guns… LPG cylinders thrown into the flames. I was angry at what I saw, but I I also felt resolute,” she said.
Ardern said there were various injuries sustained by frontline police, most of which were treated at the scene.
“The presence of children hampered the actions of the police,” Ardern said. “Today I saw children present, in much smaller numbers, but I know the police were attentive.”
When asked what she thought of parents who were willing to bring their children into this environment, she replied, “I have no words for it.”
Arden said there were around 270 protesters involved today. “It only takes a relatively small group of people to cause destruction if they so choose.
“We’re not going to dismiss some of the underlying causes of what we’ve seen,” she added, “but we won’t excuse it either. As we go through a process of assessing what has enabled the growth of misinformation and disinformation in this country and how to address it. We will ensure that this never becomes an excuse for the resulting acts of violence.
Ardern said there was an element to this protest that didn’t feel like New Zealand. “There was a foreign influence in what we saw…in terms of disinformation coming from other countries.”
Of those still throwing projectiles at police, Ardern said, “I hope they lay down their guns long enough for the police to stop them.”
Ardern wanted to reassure the people of Wellington that there would be a significant police presence in the city following today’s events.