Protesters 'occupy' Auckland CBD

NICOLA RUSSELL
Last updated 13:04 01/10/2011

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Hundreds of protesters marched up a central Auckland street over what they claim is a "huge gap between the rich and poor in New Zealand".

Protesters from Auckland Action Against Poverty, REAL Aotearoa, Socialist Aotearoa and the Mana Party gathered at Britomart earlier today before making their way up Queen St in Auckland's CBD.

The peaceful protest began with a karakia, or prayer, before the group started chanting "whose street? Our street".

The group stopped at the Victoria and Queen streets intersection for a few minutes while police directed traffic.

Protesters occupied the intersection of Wellesley and Queen, blocking traffic for about an hour and staging a symbolic burning of bills of parliament.

The protest organisers moved on peacefully at about 1pm, after being seen negotiating with police.

Well-known activist John Minto was at the demonstration as a representative for the Mana Party.

"You are here representing the many people living in the land of plenty," he said.

"This country is in crisis because the last generation has allowed a minority of people to gain wealth at the expense of the [majority]."

Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa said demonstrations over poverty issues in New Zealand wouldn't stop here.

"This is the beginning of two to three weeks of protests to show the world the real problems behind the 'clean green new zealand' image."

"There's a huge gap between rich and poor in New Zealand," he adds.

The protesters occupied parts of Queen St as a show of solidarity for the Occupy Wall St events which happened in the United States of America during the week.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators said they were protesting against bank bailouts and the mortgage crisis.

"There's 70 cities in America also taking occupancy of the streets," Carolan said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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