A large line of police separated protesters and attendees at an anti-co-governance meeting in Auckland to ensure everyone’s safety.
The meeting, organised by Julian Batchelor, was part of an anti-co-governance roadshow running across the country and was held at the Ōrewa Community Centre on Saturday afternoon.
A protest against the meeting was attended mostly by local iwi Ngāti Manuhiri and members of Te Herenga Waka o Ōrewa Marae.
Videos posted online show a tense atmosphere, with protesters disrupting the meeting with the waiata ‘Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi’, while attendees countered with the English verse of the national anthem.
Following this, protesters sang the Māori verse, which appeared to anger some in the crowd. In one video posted online, a person is heard saying, ‘Oh god, here we go’, as the protesters sang the opening line.
Pere Huriwai-Seger, from the Aotearoa Liberation League, said this exchange “perfectly” highlights the “racism inherent in the anti-co-governance movement”.
“It starts to get a little awkward because you realise that there are two parts to this song [the national anthem], the first is in English and the second is in te reo Māori. And you start to think to yourself, ‘Are they going to finish their own song, are they going to sing the second part which is in te reo Māori?’ And you think to yourself, I’d give them credit for that,” Huriwai-Seger said in a video posted online.
“Not only did they not finish the song, they sat down, they turned their backs, and they interrupted while the protesters finished their song for them.
“And this sums up the anti-co-governance movement perfectly. They’re trying to erase us from every aspect of society, but we’re here, we always have been, and we’re better singers than you.”
Police said they maintained a presence at the meeting on Saturday to make sure it was conducted safely.
“Our priority is the safety of all, so we had staff monitoring the event to be able to respond to any matters should they arise,” a spokesperson told Newshub.
“The event concluded peacefully and attendees dispersed without issue.”