5000 march in Wellington against asset sales

The number of people protesting against state asset sales reached about 5000 as a hikoi made its way to Parliament today.

The Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi oppose the Government's partial sale of power companies, deep sea oil drilling, mining, the Crafar farm sales and a range of other issues.

The crowd of about 5000 are now dispersing - with many heading to nearby Pipitea Marae in Thorndon.  

Earlier today the protest arrived at the steps of parliament chanting "we want Dunne", in reference to MP Peter Dunne holding a key vote on asset sales.

They were also chanting: "who's got the power? - we've got the power".

The Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi opposes the Government's partial sale of assets.
The Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi opposes the Government's partial sale of assets.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was a crowd favourite, receiving rapturous applause from the protest when he addressed them from Parliament's steps.

People cried out "shot Winston'' and ''love you Winnie''.

He told the crowd John Key had no mandate to sell state assets.

"Make no bones about it, the Maori Party should have walked on this. They should have been standing up for this and thank goodness you are. Thank you for coming and best of luck.''

When Mana Party leader Hone Harawira took to the microphone a loud roar rang out from the crowd.

"This is not about politics, this is not about parties, this is about people,'' he said.

"This issue is crucial for out children and our grandchildren for generations to come.''

He then started a chant, yelling "Aotearoa is not for sale, tell John Key to go to hell''.

Green Party leader Russel Norman said that the number of people in protesting today represented the unhappiness New Zealanders feel over the proposed asset sales.

"I think it's critical we keep the pressure on, the government has a very thin majority on this."

Earlier a protestor climbed a statue of former Prime Minister Richard Seddon and erected a Maori sovereignty flag to the applause of the crowd.

There was a large Mana Party presence and many supporters have travelled from the Far North, including party leader Harawira, the party's sole MP.

The march left Te Papa  earlier this morning and has now reached parliament grounds.

Marcher Moana Henry said she had travelled down from Hamilton to take part in the Wellington hikoi.

"I'm just hoping that this will bring a broader awareness to this problem and people aware that the has no mandate to  do what they're doing."

"This about my children and my children's children because there's going to be anything left if the government keep carrying on the way they are."

Protestor Alex Wong, a chef from Whangarei, said:  "I've come to protest about the Government attack against the workers and the lower classes in general."

He thought it was fantastic that so many people had turned out to the hikoi.

"This is democracy isn't it. This is our way of letting them know. When you get support together like this, it sends a strong message to people."

Kaizen Morris, 4, from Hamilton protests against asset sales in Johnsonville as the hikoi reaches Peter Dunne's electorate.
Kaizen Morris, 4, from Hamilton protests against asset sales in Johnsonville as the hikoi reaches Peter Dunne's electorate.

The protest was accompanied by a large contingent of police including Maori wardens.

Traffic was controlled by traffic barriers across the city and several road closures were in place.The group stayed at Titahi Bay Marae last night and left for Wellington City this morning.

Wellington Police District Inspector Simon Perry said police closed some central city roads to protect the safety of the marchers, including the elderly and young children.

About 80 people marched through the streets of Johnsonville yesterday morning as part of a hikoi protesting the sale of state assets.

The group then marched to Ohariu MP Peter Dunne's office to try and convince him to oppose asset sales.

They targeteted the United Future leader because his vote could stop the asset sales from going ahead.

Aileen Morris and her daughter, Kaizen, 4, began the hikoi in Hamilton.

"It's been going really well. People are very strong. There is so much aroha. Since I joined more and more cars have joined on the hikoi."

On Wednesday, a group of protesters draped a "No Asset Sales" banner on Wellington's National War Memorial carillon.

The Dominion Post