15 Aug 2015

Thousands turn out to protest TPP

5:55 pm on 15 August 2015

Thousands of people around the country have protested against the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Protest rallies against New Zealand signing the TPP were held in 21 cities and towns.

View our reporters' full coverage here

In Auckland, about 2500 people listened to speakers against the TPP at Aotea Square before marching down Queen Street, where they gathered to chant outside the United States Consulate General at the Citigroup Centre.

David Ellison, Kati Huirapa upoko, at the protest in the Octagon, Dunedin

David Ellison, Kati Huirapa upoko, at the protest in the Octagon, Dunedin Photo: RNZ

The US Consulate this week emailed American citizens urging them to avoid the march, saying even peaceful demonstrations could turn confrontational.

However, Auckland police said they were assured by the organisers that the rally would be family-oriented.

In central Wellington, traffic came to a standstill as 3,000 people marched from Midland Park on Parliament.

Some of the demonstrators briefly breached security at the Beehive entrance and were removed by security guards.

Guards and police move in to block protesters getting into the Beehive

Guards and police move in to block protesters getting into the Beehive Photo: RNZ

A protest sign left at the site of the Wellington anti-TPP rally.

A protest sign left at the site of the Wellington anti-TPP rally. Photo: RNZ

Wellington's protesters chant, clap and jeer on the steps of Parliament as guest speakers address the crowd

Wellington's protesters chant, clap and jeer on the steps of Parliament as guest speakers address the crowd Photo: RNZ

The police continue to hold their line at Parliament against the protesters

The police continue to hold their line at Parliament against the protesters Photo: RNZ

Rain in Christchurch didn't deter hundreds of protesters from gathering at Hagley Park where speakers condemned the TPP.

More than 1000 protesters march up Riccarton Road in Christchurch

More than 1000 protesters march up Riccarton Road in Christchurch Photo: RNZ

Before the march in Christchurch Donna Miles-Mojab told supporters this was not an ordinary protest, but the beginning of a movement.

Ms Miles-Mojab said today was a watershed moment in New Zealand's history and the TPP was not about free trade, but about protecting the interests of international corporations.

She said the Government was ignoring its citizens, who did not want the TPP to go ahead.

Some Auckland anti-TPP protesters stayed behind to dance in the middle of Customs Street

Some Auckland anti-TPP protesters stayed behind to dance in the middle of Customs Street. Photo: RNZ

In Dunedin, about 1500 people marched up the city's main strip, George Street, and filled the Upper Octagon for speeches and musical performances.

They heard speakers such as the Greens co-leader Metiria Turei talk about why they opposed the TPP.

Protesters march in Dunedin against the TPP

Protesters march in Dunedin against the TPP Photo: RNZ

An organiser of the anti-TPP protest there said the tide of public opinion was turning.

Jen Olsen said this was the fourth protest they had held, and was by the far the biggest.

Ms Olsen said the main message was to call for the Government to walk away from the multi-national trade deal, and she believed that could now happen.

"If the tide of political and public opinion turns against the TPP, the National Party are likely to think that this could be a very unpopular thing for them," she said. "Very unpopular come the next election, once people find out the consequences."

Ms Olsen said no-one who found out what the TPP was would think it was a good idea, except the one percent of the population who would benefit.

Police hold their line at Parliament against the protesters

Police hold their line at Parliament against the protesters. Photo: RNZ

And a protester at the Dunedin anti-TPP rally called the trade deal a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Cameron Wood was holding a sign of a Kiwi in a hangman's noose.

He said the TPP would be a disaster for New Zealand.

"It's a wolf in sheep's clothing. And I think that is why there hasn't been any transparency around it, why they're happy to keep it secret up until the last minute, and why they don't - I believe - intend to give any of this information away," Mr Wood said.

"Because if they did, I think the majority of New Zealanders, no matter how they leaned or what they voted for, would turn around and say 'this is ridiculous, we're selling our future down the river."

Mr Wood said the Government must protect New Zealand's interests much better or walk away entirely.

Protesters in Dunedin

Protesters in Dunedin Photo: RNZ

Protests were also held from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

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