When anti-vaccination protesters finally left the New Zealand Parliament grounds after a three-week occupation, they left behind a scene of destruction and disorder – including the charred remains of a children’s playground, camping equipment and human waste.
This week, a man having lunch in Parliament’s garden saw something else left behind by protesters: cannabis seedlings nestled among the cabbages and marigolds.
The unidentified man told Radio New Zealand, the national broadcaster, that he may not have “breathed in” in college, but he had a “pretty good idea” what kind of plants were sprouting “just yards away.” of the debating chamber”.
The discovery prompted a swift operation by gardeners to find, uproot and destroy the plants secretly sown in Parliament’s garden in the capital Wellington.
“We are weeding,” Trevor Mallard, the Speaker of Parliament, assured New Zealanders in a statement.
The discovery raised questions about what other surprises protesters might leave behind as a new anti-vaccination group took to social media to plan another protest for Friday.
A representative from the grounds told the national broadcaster that “many” marijuana seeds had been dispersed by protesters. Seedlings for coriander, tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs also remained. The man who originally found the marijuana plants pronounced it “a shame” and added, “The law is the law.”
In New Zealand, possession and production of recreational cannabis remains illegal after 53 percent of voters voted against legalizing marijuana in a 2020 referendum. In the run-up to the vote, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to give her support to either side to avoid, she said, influencing the outcome. She later revealed that she had voted in favor of legalization.
The protest against the country’s strict vaccine mandates lasted 23 days and drew hundreds of people from across the country. The crowd grew into conspiracy theorists and others who came to the site to rage against various grievances. What started as a peaceful protest that resembled a music festival ended in dramatic and sometimes bloody clashes with the police. Fires broke out. Protesters wielded fire extinguishers, paint-filled projectiles and other homemade weapons. Dozens of officers were injured.
Weeks later, relations between the New Zealand government and protesters against the vaccine mandate remain tense.
Last Wednesday, Ms Ardern announced that the country would waive its vaccine requirements and waive other Covid restrictions, including ending vaccine passes in stores and other locations, even though the Omicron variant has caused widespread outbreaks.
But some groups are pushing for a complete end to those restrictions. A new anti-vaccination group announced plans to protest in Wellington on Friday, prompting workers to erect fences around parliament and challenge police officers.
In the end, only a few people showed up to protest at a war memorial near Parliament. It started to rain – perfect for seedlings, but apparently not for protesters.