The Wellington protest camp of February 2022, and its fiery ending on March 2nd, is now etched into NZ history.
But what should our history books say about this event? Was it really as the government and the mainstream told us? Or did those two entities combine to create a false or misleading version of what was really happening? The truth of this historic event needs to be properly understood, and it needs to be understood why this is so important.
The NZ government labeled the Wellington camp a ‘river of filth’, filled by a few hundred disgruntled ‘anti vaxxers’ with extreme views such as racism and fascism, and with potentially violent tendencies. Therefore they were deemed by the government as not worthy of even being spoken with and listened to by anyone inside the Beehive. The mainstream media sent out the same messaging on a daily basis, and have followed this up with their recent documentary ‘Fire and Fury’ to further reinforce this narrative for our history books and to cement these perspectives into the psyche of the NZ public. But is this really what happened in Wellington? Kiwis deserve that our history books tell the truth about this event, as best and as fairly as possible. It may end up being one of the most pivotal events in NZ history, so it deserves another side of this story to be told and considered.
I provide these perspectives as someone who was camped in my tent at the Wellington camp for several days towards the end of the three week event. I also watched the daily live-stream coverage and real time interviews provided throughout the three weeks by NZ’s independent media. This was coverage and perspectives that the government and mainstream media did not show to the NZ public. I also spoke at length with some of the ‘leaders’ of the gathering.
So what were the people like who were at the Wellington camp? The government have told us that they were extremists, racists, fascists, and violent. Personally, I am none of those things. In fact I am the complete opposite of those things, and so was pretty much every person at the Wellington camp. I grew up in NZ in the 70s and 80s and I grew up in a country where NZ and Kiwis were admired around the world for their incredible friendliness, their desire to go out of their way to help anyone, anytime, no matter who it was, and their pioneering ingenuity to just find a way to get things done. The number 8 wire mentality. If you created a hypothetical spectrum of all people across society, with one end of that spectrum being nasty, violent people, and the other end of that spectrum being peaceful, generous, community minded people like our 70s and 80s folk above, then just about everyone at the Wellington camp was at the far end of the ‘nice, peaceful, community’ end of that spectrum. They were the true blue Kiwis that I grew up around in the 70s and 80s. These things are never 100% with large gatherings of people. But that was the overriding make-up of the people in the Wellington camp.
They were Kiwis from every segment of society. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, builders, plumbers, firefighters. All races and ethnicity. Many of them had declined to take the COVID vaccine, for many different reasons, and many of them had actually taken the COVID vaccine. They weren’t ‘anti vax’, they were pro freedom of choice. It wasn’t just about the vaccine mandates. The mandates were just the straw that broke the camel’s back. A critical line had been crossed of aggressive command and control government that was unacceptable to the principles of true Kiwis with that spirit of the 70s and 80s I have described.
So that is who the people were who were in Wellington. But why exactly were they there, and how did it happen?
Hundreds of thousands of these Kiwis, perhaps a million, had been demonized and dehumanized by the NZ government and media. A ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ we were all told (it is now accepted across the world that the COVID vaccine does not prevent COVID or stop transmission). These people were effectively cast out of normal society through the vaccine passports and mandates, and were dehumanized into second class citizens. Kiwis were turned against Kiwis. Tens of thousands had lost their jobs and their careers, including critical workforce of doctors, nurses, teachers, and firefighters. It was essentially apartheid in NZ, and the NZ Prime Minister had confirmed on camera to the nation that this was exactly the intention. When I was growing up in NZ in the 70s and 80s, if you had told me then that brutal policies of segregation and apartheid would come into NZ to create two classes of Kiwis within my lifetime, I would have said you were crazy. Impossible. I would have said that NZ are the ones who help other countries fight against these awful things. I would have said that Kiwis stick together through thick and thin. That is the Kiwi way.
So that is why these people were there in Wellington. They were there because they could see no other option. They came to parliament to stand together in solidarity with other like-minded Kiwis who valued what it was to be a true Kiwi. It was spontaneous and unplanned. No one had planned to build a semi-permanent ‘freedom village’ right outside parliament. It just happened. A spark was lit across the country and it just took on a life of its own. The Wellington camp didn’t contain just a few hundred disgruntled extremists as the government and media told us. At its peak there were perhaps as many as 15,000 people there, from every segment of NZ society. This number fluctuated over the three weeks, and then slowly declined to a few thousand in the later stages.
Leading up to the Wellington gathering, two massive convoys of vans, caravans, and cars had earlier been organized and formed. One starting from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island and the other one from Bluff at the bottom of the South Island. These two convoys grew to become absolutely enormous as more vehicles joined them along the way. There were thousands of vehicles as they made their way down the North Island and up the South Island towards Wellington. Through the length of the country the two convoys passed by huge numbers of people who came out to line the roads in support as they passed by. There were tens of thousands of Kiwis, maybe hundreds of thousands, up and down the country lining the roads to waive the freedom convoys by. It was probably the largest nationwide protest rally in NZ history. That amazing story was barely even mentioned to us by the government or mainstream media. Those coming from the south arrived in huge numbers at Picton. Many couldn’t get across to Wellington on the ferries because of the vaccine passports. So Kiwi boat owners in Picton took some of them across to Wellington themselves. That good old fashioned Kiwi spirit kicking in.
The Wellington gathering began on February 8th, and the numbers were huge. But it was totally peaceful. In fact the messaging coming from everyone in the gathering was that no matter how much provocation or attacks there were by the government and police attempting to break things up, those attacks on them must be met with nothing but peace. That was the overriding, number one priority that was understood and adopted across the camp. In fact, it went even further than that. There was an understanding that if any individual did get overwhelmed by a challenging situation with the police and got angry or ‘over protective’, then others would step in to shield or remove that person from the immediate situation until they calmed down. I witnessed this very thing happen on two occasions while I was there. Both situations were quickly shut down and diffused by those around to help. It was clearly understood by everyone there that if the campers were seen to be aggressive in any way towards the police then this would be used against them by the government and the media.
On Day 3 (February 10th) the government and the mainstream media will tell us that this was the day that the gathering turned violent and out of control. It was not. It was in fact a day that hundreds of good, true spirited Kiwis joined together and showed the most tremendous courage, peace, and unity that has been seen on these shores. It was something that was on one hand truly incredible, and it was on the other hand something that was absolutely horrific and shocking for our country.
The government had decided that the Wellington gathering needed to be broken up and dispersed. The police were going to enter the camp area in large numbers and break it up. The campers could see what was coming and hundreds of them, perhaps a thousand, linked arms to create a human wall between the gathering police and the camp area. The human chain of people was many people deep, all locked arm in arm. They were peacefully making their stand. Peacefully uniting to draw their collective line in the sand. The understanding across the group was that no matter what the police did to someone in that human wall, there would be no reaction. If someone was dragged out and beaten, they would be allowed to be taken out without a fight. Even if it was a family member or friend being beaten and arrested.
Linked arm in arm that human chain faced the gathering numbers of police and they sang songs. They sang the national anthem and they sang songs of peace. Then the police launched into them, trying everything to break the line. They picked out individuals, dragging them out and beating them, many of them brutally with serious injuries, and arresting them. 122 in all were dragged out and arrested. But the human chain would not buckle, and it would not react to those getting dragged away and beaten.
For hours they stood there in their hundreds, arm in arm and took the pounding peacefully. But they could not be broken. The police were doing what they were instructed to do, but many were clearly not comfortable with it. Allegedly 12 of those police officers resigned that night, and currently there are over 1,000 official complaints of unlawful police brutality being processed and investigated. The courage, strength, and unity shown by those hundreds of Kiwis on February 10th, and the inability of the police to break that human chain, is what allowed the Wellington camp to then take hold properly in the semi-permanent fashion it did over the next three weeks through ‘unofficial agreements’ between camp leaders and the police.
Following the February 10th events, things then shifted from Kiwi courage to good old fashioned Kiwi ingenuity and cooperation. Within just a few days the Wellington camp was transformed into a fully functional community ‘town’, with everything a fully-fledged town would have. There were multiple Food Halls, a music and entertainment theatre, medical and health rooms, a crèche, a yoga and well-being studio, a sport and recreation area, a phone charging station, and much more.
It was Kiwi ingenuity and cooperation at its absolute finest. It was able to be done like this because there was professional expertise there from every segment of society. People who had been mandated out of their professional careers were now putting their skills and expertise to use in a new way. There was no complicated, bureaucratic government planning and oversight of the creation of this incredible little ‘town’. It just happened spontaneously through Kiwi ingenuity and community cooperation.
Trevor Mallard and the government tried everything they could think of to undermine what was taking place, including turning the sprinklers on. But everything that was tried was met with the same Kiwi ingenuity. The plumbers and firefighters within the camp quickly created innovative solutions to Trevor’s sprinkler antics, and the children just danced in the water.
Was there a ‘river of filth’ flowing through the camp? Absolutely not. But the government did try their very best to try to create that ‘river of filth’. The government attempted to prevent the portaloo cleaning trucks from entering the camp area to maintain the portaloos. But once again this was met with amazing Kiwi ingenuity. The builders and plumbers within the camp joined forces and within just a few hours they had sourced the required products and equipment and had built two fully functional, plumbed in and flushing toilet blocks in the middle of the road in front of parliament. They had tapped into the Wellington water mains, and then plumbed the new flushing toilet blocks into the Wellington sewerage system underneath the street. The attempted ‘river of filth’ by the government had been thwarted in a cooperative operation of pure Kiwi brilliance.
The provision of meals at the Wellington camp was nothing short of incredible. The Food Halls at the camp provided thousands of free cooked meals every day to all campers who wanted it. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for thousands of people every day. The food supplies and resources were donated and transported in to the camp every day from supporters from all over the country. Then a small army of volunteer helpers in the camp would process and provide the meals to the campers three times a day. It was a military operation of military scale and efficiency from right across the country. An incredible accomplishment by NZ which the government and mainstream media never made any mention of.
So, what did I do during my days at the Wellington camp? According to the government and mainstream media I would have been plotting extremist actions with my fellow violent radicals. No, not really. That’s not really my thing. What I actually did was I had great chats over coffees with a lot of really interesting normal Kiwis, about all sorts of things. I watched in amazement those Kiwis build those toilet blocks on the road. I watched and listened to songs and performances by some very talented Kiwis in the camp’s Entertainment Hall. I watched a Kiwi couple get married in front of thousands of cheering supporters. I listened to groups outside the church singing and praying for the safety and future of the people of the camp and this country. Yes, there were also some thought provoking speeches being made about various political and philosophical issues. But most of all I witnessed my fellow Kiwis working together and helping each other in incredible ways with whatever needed to be done to run and maintain this amazing new little ‘town’. I discovered that the true Kiwi community spirit and ingenuity I saw when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s was still there. It was still alive and kicking in all of these Kiwis who had come together from all backgrounds, from all over the country. It was truly inspiring.
These are the Kiwis who refused to allow that to be taken away from them and their country. They drew their line in the sand and they said NO. It was that message that lit a spark that caught fire across the country. It wasn’t ‘Fire and Fury’ like the government and mainstream media have been trying to make New Zealanders think. Instead, it was the fire of unity and freedom, and a shared objective that these Kiwis wanted to show a different, more ‘Kiwi way’ to the way that the government was demanding and dictating to the country.
There is much debate around exactly what happened on the final ugly day on March 2nd. What we do know is that the overriding intention and objective of the Wellington campers was absolutely peace driven. We also know that the day’s events were started by early morning raids by the police while most of the campers were still sleeping. It also looks almost certain that on that day the camp was infiltrated by what are called ‘agent provocateurs’. Strange people who had not previously been seen at the camp suddenly popped up on that day, wearing masks and looking and acting strangely and differently to the rest of the campers. None of the Wellington campers wore masks throughout the previous three weeks, but these new ‘strangers’ did. Here is footage showing three of those masked ‘strangers’ setting the fire while the line of incoming police has paused in front of them.
From the heckling by the surrounding crowd in the camp it is very clear that these ‘strangers’ and their actions were not at all welcome by the campers around them. This photo below is allegedly one of those three masked ‘strangers’ seen lighting that fire as he walked away from it before someone in the crowd pulled his scarf down to show his face to the 8,000 live-stream viewers watching this at the time through live independent media.
So, was the environment of conflict and violence on that day created by these masked ‘strangers’ who lit the fire, and by other masked and strange behaving ‘infiltrators’ who suddenly popped up at the camp that day armed with objects which they threw at the police? The resulting scenes that we have all seen on TV were used by the government and mainstream media to try to cement their narrative of the Wellington camp being filled by violent extremists and a river of filth. But instead of our history books recording this ‘Fire and Fury’ version of events that our government and mainstream media would seemingly like it to be recorded as, an alternative way of remembering the Wellington camp is this. It was an incredible convergence of many thousands of patriotic and peaceful Kiwis, from top to bottom of NZ, from all segments of the community, who on February 10th, 2022 courageously and peacefully held their ground while under full, brutal assault, and collectively said NO. Then they worked together with amazing community cooperation to create the most brilliant and innovative of Kiwi productions. All supported and resourced from around the whole country, to showcase true Kiwi spirit and ingenuity.
That spirit and that fire was not crushed on March 2nd. All across the country the Wellington camp has been the catalyst for a subsequent nationwide ‘social evolution’. A multitude of different community groups, with total numbers in the hundreds of thousands, have come together around the country to try to create some different directions and different options for NZ. Directions and options that are more aligned with the true values and spirit that were so evident in the NZ I grew up in back in the 70s and 80s, and were so evident in the NZ Freedom Camp in Wellington.
March 2nd, 2022 wasn’t the end of the ‘NZ Freedom Camp’. It was just the beginning. It was the beginning of a ‘River of Freedom’.
This story is dedicated to those Kiwis who courageously and peacefully stood firm and held the line on February 10th, 2022. It is also a hat tip to the mini documentary trailer ‘River of Freedom’, soon to be a full length documentary, showing what really happened at the Wellington camp and leading up to it.