Businesses want Brian Tamaki-led protest to steer clear of Newmarket

Businesses want Brian Tamaki-led protest to steer clear of Newmarket

Businesses in Auckland are bracing themselves for a planned protest led by Brian Tamaki’s Freedom and Rights Coalition on Saturday.

Anti-government protesters move out onto the Southern Motorway in Auckland.

The last protest took place two weeks ago. Photo: RNZ / Jonty Dine

Auckland Council has warned the group, which has not applied for a permit, that it faces enforcement action if there is any live music, food trucks or entertainment.

Two weeks ago, roughly 1000 protesters marched on to Auckland’s Southern Motorway, closing it to traffic.

Previous protests at the Domain spilled into Newmarket, one of the city’s busiest weekend shopping destinations, and forced shops to close.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas said local shops were prepared for the worst.

He said the last protest had a dire impact for business owners.

“Some of our retailers had a really ropey afternoon, because foot traffic died off, cars couldn’t get in, people couldn’t get into car parks, and the motorway was gridlocked,” he said.

“It was very unhelpful.”

Knoff-Thomas hoped the latest protest would leave businesses out of the crossfire.

“If they’ve got a problem with the government, take it to Wellington, go to the Beehive. Leave Newmarket out of it.”

Some locals plan to air their frustrations in person.

Mark Graham planned a counter-protest via Facebook. He said he had simply had enough of Tamaki.

“He just comes across as a hypocritical, self-serving grifter, who has basically springboarded off other people’s misfortunes,” he said.

“It seems like everything he does is designed to get more money.”

Graham said, after seeing Tamaki’s rise to prominence, he had to make a stand.

“With dismay I’ve watched these groups coalesce and become louder and more vehement in their messaging. “What they’re coming out with is really trying to undermine the democracy we have in this country.”

But he said his goal was not to pick a fight, nor did he want the protest canned.

“We’ve been accused of trying to shut down Tamaki’s protest, which is not true,” he said. “We celebrate their right to free speech, but of course we’re enjoying our right to free speech by getting up there and calling them numpties.”

Some were less supportive of Graham’s right to protest. He received multiple hateful messages from disapproving Facebook users.

Graham said he expected some flak, but hadn’t quite realised what he signed up for. “That was quite hurtful actually,” he said. “But I’m more concerned for my family and the potential risk to them. That’s what really worries me.”

The Freedom and Rights Coalition told RNZ it was not fazed by the counter-protest.

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