Man who died after setting himself alight had been protesting Family Court issues

Police gather at the scene on Parliament grounds on Thursday.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Police gather at the scene on Parliament grounds on Thursday.

The man who died after setting himself on fire outside Parliament is understood to have come to Wellington recently to protest against his treatment by the Family Court.

The man, who has not been named by police, had links with Rotorua, where he was known to court staff.

When he set himself on fire on Thursday afternoon, he had protest placards with him.

A cordon was put up outside Parliament after the man set himself alight.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

A cordon was put up outside Parliament after the man set himself alight.

Witnesses said they recognised the placards as the same ones a man was seen holding outside the Supreme Court in Wellington on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Man who set himself on fire outside Parliament dies - police

One of those signs read: "In Iran you stone mothers; in New Zealand fathers." Another read: "My vote No! To Family Court lawyers racket." 

The man was taken to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday, and died overnight.

Since the incident outside Parliament, men's rights and fathers' rights groups have shared messages online about the man, and about what they regard as unfair Family Court decisions.

Vinay Deobhakta established a training business in Auckland called McKenzie Friend Professionals last year, in an attempt to help the increasing number of self-litigants in the Family Court to resolve custody issues.

He said many men were frustrated and disillusioned by the court, especially around custody issues.

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The man's death has been referred to the coroner, and a formal identification process was still being carried out by police. 

Police placed a cordon around a burnt patch of grass, about a metre in diameter, on the lawn outside Parliament House.

A foreign reporter, who did not want to be named, witnessed the incident and said it was unlike anything she had seen before.

"I turned around and there was a man in flames on the lawn … we didn't know it was a person to begin with.

"We were yelling for help. We didn't know what the emergency number was … a man came over with his jacket and tried to beat the flame out."

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* For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 - Stuff

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