Steps leading up to Parliament from Bowen Street carry protest messages. This is one of the entrances that may be cut off after the Parliamentary Security review.

There were mixed messages coming out of “Camp Freedom” at Parliament last night about whether to negotiate with the Police.

A number of groups, led by Destiny Church’s Freedom and Rights Coalition, were willing to talk.

But the hard-line right-wing extremist Counterspinmedia was heaping scorn on those supporting negotiations.

There were allegations of threats against those who wanted to talk.

Signs had begun to appear around the protest site calling for people to “hold the line.”

POLITIK An exhortation to protesters on the fence to the Old Government Buildings over the road from Parliament

Meanwhile, by late last night, a Police call for tow truck operators to help drag cars away from the blocked roads around Parliament appeared to have gone unheeded.

The Police strategy appears to be to start towing the cars and taking them to Wellington’s Sky Stadium carpark, where they can be held for 28 days.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, perhaps aware of the widespread frustration among MPs from all parties and more broadly across Wellington, appeared to defend the Police’s “go easy” tactics and intimated the Police would not use heavy force to move the protesters.

“What’s clear from international experience is that there is no easy resolution to protests of this nature and the safety of the public and consequences of escalation are a significant factor in our decision making,” he said late yesterday.

Parliament itself is going to review security, and a meeting involving MPs and officials scheduled for tonight is likely to discuss the prospect of walls and enhanced gates to allow the Parliamentary forecourt to be closed off completely when required.

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One of the problems with the current protest is that protesters can easily come and go from Parliament’s grounds.

At present, there is agreement among the main parties that there should be no negotiations with the protesters.

Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon supported the Prime Minister on her refusal to meet the protesters.

“We respect people’s right to protest, but we expect them to do it within the rules – and that’s not been happening,” he said.

“When you come here to talk about freedoms, and then you impinge the freedoms of others … that’s not on.”

POLITIK A yoga tent on Parliament’s lawn

The initiative to begin talks with the Police includes three anti-vax groups; New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science, The Hood NZ, Voices for Freedom and three “minnow” political parties; The Outdoors and Freedom Movement (associated with Nelson lawyer, Sue Grey); the Freedom and Rights Coalition (the Destiny Church group) and the Freedom Alliance associated with Bill Te Kahika and the Advance NZ Party.

“We are united in demanding an end to Covid-19 mandates,” their statement says.

“Until the mandates end, we are determined to maintain our presence.”

Their end goal is simply the end of the vaccination mandates.

The Government will not make that concession while the protest is in play, but POLITIK understands that there is some discussion within the Government about how much longer the mandates might extend.

However, a simple goal of just ending mandates will not be enough for many at Parliament for whom the protest has come to represent much more.

One document circulating around the protest called for all Covid legislation and regulation to be repealed and for a rejection of any moves for a society based on digital identity.

Others, like the former Whaleoil blogger and now BFD blogger Cameron Slater had a more political agenda.

“They (Parliament’s MPs) are standing in there sneering at you and treating you like scumbags,” he told the crowd in a speech yesterday afternoon.

“The only scumbags are the cowards who are in Parliament behind us.

Slater said the MPs were frightened.

“They want to talk to leaders; there are no leaders here,” he said.

The combined statement appeared to concede this range of views.

“We speak for the vast majority of the protestors present, but not all,” it says.

And then it hinted at the bitterness of the divisions in the background.

“Accusations have been made about threatening behaviour, and we encourage the police to work with us on that to identify those involved.”

POLITIK The main stage — controlled by the Freedom and Rights Coalition

Speakers like Slater have been using the sound system owned by Brian Tamaki’s organisation, the Freedom and Rights Coalition.

But it is now clear that another major player at Parliament, the Counterspinmedia group and Freedom and Rights, are at loggerheads.

Counterspin, which is linked to the right-wing extremist media group set up by former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, is led by Kelvyn Alp.

“You don’t have to listen to some prick who wants to form a political party,” he said in a broadcast last night in an obvious reference to Tamaki, who is not at Parliament because he is on bail in Auckland.

“Under no circumstances listen to anyone who’s trying to sell you out.

“Stand your ground, hold the line, do it peacefully, but do it resolutely.

“We will win this if we stay together.

“Beware of the enemy within, because that is always the way an army falls; from their own Judases.”

Alp even objects to the musical entertainment being provided through Destiny’s sound system.

Emotions were running high on Counterspinmedia’s channel once news of the offer to talk to the Police became known.

POLITIK Despite being dis-owned by Wellington’s Hare Krishna Temple (100% vaccinated) these devotees have stayed on site drumming and chanting

“We can not lose this opportunity,” said another high profile protester, Dana Lee.

“You must get perspective as to what it is we’re doing.

“Those of you who are using this movement; those of you that are riding on the back of this movement for political gain. Shame on you, shame on you, because this is for the people.

“This is to secure the nation.”

The prospect of talks and the possibility (albeit slim) that the cars might get moved today suggests that as the protest begins to lose its political edge, and as it does begin to fragment, an endgame might start coming into sight soon.