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Key unfazed as protesters descend on Parliament

Published: 12:49PM Friday May 04, 2012 Source: ONE News

As thousands of protesters converged on Parliament to rally against the Government's planned asset-sales, Prime Minister John Key was in Auckland seemingly unaware the protest was taking place.

The hikoi, called 'Aotearoa is Not For Sale', has travelled down the country with protesters reaching Wellington yesterday. They gathered at the electorate office of United Future leader Peter Dunne in the suburb of Johnsonville.

Today's march kicked off from Wellington's Te Papa Museum shortly after midday with around 500 protesters, including members of the Mana Party and Greenpeace.

As the hikoi marched through Wellington CBD to Parliament, numbers swelled to around 5000 and some streets were blocked off to allow the protest passage.

Parliament was not sitting today and the Prime Minister was in Auckland, apparently unaware of what was happening in Wellington.

"How many people did they have? John Key asked reporters. "Where was it? Nope wasn't aware of it."

Key says the National Party has a clear mandate to proceed with privatising some state assets.

"Well over a million New Zealanders voted for National in the full knowledge we were going to undertake the mixed ownership model," he said.

"So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn't going to change my mind."

Green Party co-leader Russell Norman spoke at the gathering and was joined by other opposition MPs, including Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson.

The only tense moment came when police escorted a Government supporter away after arguing with protesters.

Hikoi leader Mike Smith said the Government plan to partially sell some state-assets was a very contentious issue among the people of New Zealand.

"I think it's going to become increasingly more toxic for the National Government to be pursuing this," Smith said. 

"If they go against the wish of the people they will be severely punished at the next election."

Last Saturday thousands of hikoi protesters packed out central Auckland.

Supporters said the crowd represented just a small cross section of Kiwis who are against the Government's plan to sell off 49% of its stakes in four power companies and Air New Zealand.

The hikoi kicked off two weeks ago in Cape Reinga and was prompted by the Overseas Investment Office approval of the sale of the Crafar farms to Chinese buyers Shanghai Pengxin.

What do you think about the hikoi? Have your say on our messageboard.

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  • gypsy22 said on 2012-05-04 @ 19:21 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Good on the 'hikoi' the old quote comes to mind.."if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything" .

  • walsa said on 2012-05-04 @ 19:08 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I don't want National to sell our assets and I don't believe they have a mandate BUT maybe there may be a silver lining. Once all the dust settles and the asset sales have turned out to be the red herring we all know they are the voting public will wake up and realise that when you vote in an election it means something and you have to have actually thought about who you are voting for and why. I guess wining an election by coalition with like-minded parties does give you a mandate

  • Tainas1 said on 2012-05-04 @ 18:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Good on the Hikoi for taking the time and making the effort, the Prime Minister..... shocking display of calculated ignorance.... then to say that over a million voted to support this.... well I am one who switched away BECAUSE of it. Lets do the numbers 1m from 4m = a majority of people NOT supporting asset sales... please grow up Mr Key

  • Fortis said on 2012-05-04 @ 18:55 NZDT: Report abusive post

    This is a march that has people who say that the assets belong to them-does the debt we as a country have also belong to them? It's lead by Mike Smith-who could possibly support anything that he is connected with-he chopped down the tree on One Tree Hill-an enemy of the people!

  • katdsfd said on 2012-05-04 @ 18:51 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I say "Get over it!" I'm glad we have an experienced business man on the job of running the country..sure we aint all goin to be happy with everything like the price of tobacco!!! But selling some assets to pay for other things we need now is a great idea. It will never be allowed to be owned outright to overseas investors.

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