Parliament Park officially reopens after occupation and riots
Robert Kitchin / Stuff
The event is called Mōuri Whenua, Mōuri Tangata, Mōuri Ora – a “ceremony to restore the land, the people and the life of Parliament”.
- The Parliament grounds are due to officially reopen in a ceremony from midday today
- The grounds were badly damaged after the parliamentary occupation in February
- The reopening was designed to coincide with Matariki’s first public holiday
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed protesters back to Parliament, reopening the ground to the public more than four months after anti-vaccine and anti-mandate mobs rioted and set up a makeshift camp on the lawn.
Rubbish was cleared, grounds cleared and the lawn of the Houses of Parliament re-seeded after fires burned across the grounds and violent clashes shocked the nation. The land was used as a public thoroughfare for a few months, but was opened in a ceremony on Wednesday.
Dozens of local children joined politicians and parliament staff at the ceremony, with climate protesters also present.
“Welcome to our local schools and early childhood centers,” Ardern said. “Welcome to our churches and their ministries that regularly pass through these grounds. Welcome to our local businesses…and welcome to our protesters; it’s also your space, and I think some have joined those grounds.
* Parliament lawn begins to regrow after protest against occupation
* Cleaning up the protest would cost Victoria University nearly $50,000
* Ransacked Parliament grounds reopen, occupation equated with sense of home invasion
* Te Āti Awa works to restore the Parliament grounds mauri after the occupation and riots
The event was called Mōuri Whenua, Mōuri Tangata, Mōuri Ora – a “ceremony to restore the land, the people and the life of Parliament”. Representatives of Te Ātiawa Taranaki Whānui and Parliament attended the opening. MPs from all political parties were hosting sausage sizzles and a Mr Whippy van was handing out ice creams.
The playground, which was still under construction yesterday, was once again used by the children. Wellington City Councilor Fleur Fitzsimons said it cost $140,000 to repair the playground, which caught fire during the protest, under a 100-year-old pōhutukawa tree. An online fundraiser raised $22,000.
Ardern said the grounds were “very, very special and unique”.
“These are the grounds on which the first country in the world rightfully granted women the right to vote,” she said.
Taranaki Whānui President Kara Puketapu-Dentice said the ceremony had restored hope that peace reigned on the ground.
“This place is for all New Zealanders, a place for vigorous debate, a place for differences of opinion,” he said.
“We have restored the mauri and the wairua here at Parlimant Ground and together we must commit to ensuring that across our country we must move from disconnection to reconnection.”
Although most of the grounds had been open as a public road for a few months, House Speaker Trevor Mallard had indicated that the official reopening had been delayed to coincide with Matariki’s first national holiday.
There was a modest police presence around the precincts of Parliament this morning.