Arrests at student protest
A protest against the Budget and Finance Minister Bill English saw 43 people arrested in central Auckalnd and more than 100 police deployed to the demonstration.
The protest closed Symonds St, between Waterloo Quad and Wellesly St before moving to Queen St and the Auckland Police Headquarters, where they surrounded the building and demanded their "political prisoner" colleagues be released.
Symonds St was reopened about 5pm but the protest moved to Queen St, where protesters sat on the road blocking traffic, and then on to SkyCity, beofre later dissolving
Many bus services in the city were delayed because of the protest, involving an estimated 500 people.
Protestor Thomas Dykes said a number of protesters surrounded the central police station on Cook St to "show solidarity" with those who had been arrested.
The students, supported by a number of unions, were protesting education cuts announced in last week's Budget, which limit eligibility for students' allowances and require graduates to repay loans at a rate of 12 per cent of their income rather than 10.
Joe Carolan of Socialist Aotearoa said students were dressed up in togas and waving red flags to accept English's challenge to protest like the Greeks.
He described police as "aggressive" and explains at one point they came into the crowd and arrested a petite Asian girl which caused boos from protesters and onlookers.
He was not sure why people were arrested saying it was their democratic right to march.
Officers were linking arms and pushing against the crowd as it came up Symonds St.
He said people finishing work were turning up to see what was going on at the university.
Nathalie Jaques of protest group We Are the University said today's action is part of a new student movement called Blockade the Budget.
She said they were planning further protest action for next semester. Today was the last day of lectures for students.
An Auckland Transport spokesman said public transport which normally goes via Symonds St was affected, as were many other central city services, and drivers should avoid the area.
At a post-budget breakfast last week English told a business audience that most people thought students should "count themselves lucky they've still got interest free loans''.
"Yes, there's a protest movement out there but who's really listening to them?" English said, in response to a question from the audience.
"They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket ... dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it.''
English was not willing to comment on the protests when contacted this evening.
Protest organisers said the budget cuts were "scapegoat politics of a terminally ideological government".
A Facebook page for their protest said education investment is needed for a healthy society.
"When the government and the elite insist that the only way to fund education is indebtedness, we say that education is a human right and a social necessity."