Last month, Julian Batchelor of Stop Co-Governance held a public meeting at the Orewa Community Centre to raise awareness of the dangers of co-governance, and to gather political support to stop it. However, a rabble of badly behaved people sparked a noisy counter protest. This was obviously an attempt to sabotage the event to prevent Mr Batchelor from airing his views.
Following is an eyewitness account from a local:
“Protestors, supported by a local board representative, took over a public meeting in our local community hall, in an attempt to prevent free speech.
About 30 protesters filed into the hall in a large group, with several storming up the aisle to announce their presence, shouting slogans and chanting, no doubt an attempt to pip the speaker at the post and disenfranchise the attendees. They stated that this was their community, and the meeting was not welcome. Most then retired to the back of the room as 18 police officers filed into the hall forming a line at the back of the room to wall off the protest from the audience who had come to hear the talk. Despite this move by the police, some protesters walked into the audience and stood over members of the public.
Once the speaker, Julian Batchelor of the Stop Co-Governance campaign, took the stage he was immediately silenced by the protestors singing Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi - but hypocritically this was not sung in the spirit of unity.
As soon as the speaker began his presentation, the activists started up a barrage of yelling at such a noise level that he had to turn his microphone volume up significantly. We had to move because the protestors sitting beside us would not be quiet so we could hear the speaker. Older people sitting with us left fearful of the intimidation and the ones with hearing aids could not cope with the barrage of abuse being hurled at the speaker.
For the next hour the disruptors yelled, raised fists, uttered expletives, stalked up and down the aisles, and harassed and provoked individuals in the audience, filming the reaction with their phone cameras. There was not a single moment during the presentation when we were able to have quiet, respect, or space. To the speaker’s credit he continued to go through his presentation and demonstrate his right to freedom of speech. However, as a member of the audience it was very difficult to hear and focus on, due to the activist’s constant clamour.”
This eyewitness account is markedly different from reports published in the mainstream media, such as the NZ Herald and Newshub, which appear to be based solely on the protestors’ footage and their biased stories. Accuracy fairness and balance be damned – there was no coverage showing the aggressive posturing by the protestors, and judging by the narrative, it appears the media did not bother to interview anyone in the audience.