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Dunedin protesters occupying Octagon told to leave by Monday

A group of anti-mandate protesters who have been camping in Dunedin's Octagon for almost two months have been formally told to leave by Monday.

About 100 people gathered at The Octagon, Dunedin, in protest against Covid-19 health measures.
A group also gathered in November to protest Covid-19 health measures Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

While the protest had been largely peaceful, Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins said it was still disruptive and no longer had a clear purpose.

He said there was no reason for the group to remain, with the lifting of vaccine pass requirements and most mandates.

"We met with police yesterday to discuss next steps, today we will formally write to them advising them of the offences they are committing under the Reserves Act and our bylaws and they will be given an opportunity to cease their offending and leave the Octagon," Mr Hawkins said.

"If they decline, we will then work through a process with police to issue a trespass notice."

A video posted to social media shows a Dunedin City Council letter being delivered to demonstrators, saying they must leave by midday on Monday, taking all of their belongings with them.

"This letter is a formal warning to leave the Octagon Reserve," it said.

"Should you refuse or fail to leave the Octagon Reserve after this warning to leave, each of you will be committing an offence under the Trespass Act."

One of the demonstrators, called Chrissie, said she had been at the Octagon since the protest began on 11 February and did not intend to leave by the council deadline.

"We've actually been asking to speak to the council since we've been here. We haven't had any communication from them, so it's a bit of a joke," she said.

"There are still mandates in effect. we've still got a considerable amount of support from the community, so as far as I'm concerned, that means there is a reason for us to be here."

Chrissie said she lost her job in mental health and addiction support because she was unvaccinated.

Hawkins said there was growing community frustration about the Octagon protest, which had run its course.

"It hasn't had the same atmosphere as we've seen in other iterations of this, notably in Wellington, and that's to be commended, but it doesn't change the fact that it is disruptive now without a clear purpose," he said.

Hawkins said a video posted on social media of a portaloo being taken away was nothing to do with the council.

"My understanding is that has been taken away by the company that hires out that kind of infrastructure...[the portaloo] wasn't being provided by us either," he said.

source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/464815/dunedin-protesters-occupying-octagon-told-to-leave-by-monday