Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march





NZ, Wellington, 15  August – Anti-TPPA protesters, many of them young people in their teens and early 20s, faced off against police armed with tasers on the steps of Parliament.

Believed to be the first time that armed police have deployed tasers in a non-violent, non-threatening situation, at least five police officers were visibly carrying the potentially lethal devices on their belts;


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


At least five  weapons were clearly visible, with other policemen and woman wearing bulky jackets that may or may not have concealed more of the devices.

Though there was some minor jostling between one protester and a Parliamentary security guard, there was no violence or any other physical contact between police and members of the public.

The confrontation began when a lone protester made her way to the top of the Parliamentary steps, and seated herself, adopting a meditating position. For a short time, three police attempted to persuade her to move, though no force was used.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


She was followed by others, who also jumped or skirted around the security fence separating the grassy area from the paved Parliamentary forecourt.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


As their numbers swelled to approximately a hundred, extra police arrived quickly and with Parliamentary Security, formed a cordon across the steps leading up to Parliament.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


March organisors and Marshalls attempted to quell the situation by asking people to move back from the steps, without much success.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


Eventually,  jostling and shouting gave way to a calmer atmosphere as March organisors encouraged a constant stream of speakers to address the crowd. The tiny volatile minority, numbering perhaps half a dozen, joined others seated on the steps. One activist played his guitar and sang songs, though at one point he declined a request for “anything by Dave Dobbin“.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


After about a hour, the crowd on the Parliamentary forecourt dispersed of their own volition. Police numbers also reduced, with officers leaving the scene.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


There was no apparent reason for tasers to be deployed on this occasion. The sight of these weapons incited many in the crowd to angry outbursts toward the police.

More than one person was overheard asking what possible use  four or five tasers would have been against a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

One person, who requested anonymity,  said to this blogger;

“Whoever authorised these guns to be brought out needs their head read. It’s a grim day when cops feel the need to show these things when they’re faced with ordinary New Zealanders engaged in lawful protest. It’s like something out of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.  Really, is this where we’ve ended up, armed cops facing off against women and kids? God help us.”

On this occasion, a tense situation was prevented from escalation not by show of force, but by the wit of organisors who distracted the ‘hot heads’ and encouraged dialogue and engagement.

The best strategy in this stand-off was patience.





Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

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TPPA-cartoon-trans pacific partnership




= fs =


  1. The obvious question here is “so what?”

    That the police had tasers on hand and didn’t need to use them demonstrates their true value, one of deterrent.

    However, I suppose if those hotheads had caused trouble it could have only been the fault of the cops, right?

    And how disingenuous, describing tasers as guns. Please!

    • Schwen, did you actually bother to read what I wrote?

      Of what possible use would half a dozen tasers be against an estimated 6,000 people?

      And yes, tasers are guns. They just fire a different projectile.

    • Frank says there was “no reason for Tasers to be deployed”.

      They weren’t deployed Frank. They stayed in their holsters. (eyes roll)

        • According to Google

          deploy: bring into effective action.

          So I suggest you get grip.

          It makes 100% tasers to have tasers available should a protest turn violent. It didn’t, so they stayed in their holsters.

          I’m a big fan of the taser: an excellent way to immobilize a criminal with low risk of harm.

          • Andrew, your gung-hoism would be appropriate in the US but here in New Zealand – no.

            You have conflated the use of tasers against violent offenders with peaceful demonstrators.

            You do know the difference, don’t you?

            • You’re not getting it, Frank. The police didn’t ‘use’ the tasers because the protest was peaceful. But you’d be the first to complain if the protest became violent and the police were unable to protect the citizenry.

                    • I’m sure I would have read about it if the protest was not peaceful or the tasers were used. You’re simply deliberately avoiding addressing the issue.

                  • You weren’t there Lionking? But you’re still pontificating on the deployment of tasers at a peaceful protest??

                    Well, I was there. I danced on the forecourt andsat on the steps. And you’re full of shit you rightwing dipstick.

                    • First time protesting for me on Saturday.

                      As far as I could witness from the grounds, there wasn’t any violence between police and protestors. They stood in their line on the steps and barely moved.

                      I walked past them later on and saw the tasers on their belts. I counted five.

                      So yes, Mr LionKing, they were deployed.

                      However, if you’re playing semantics word games then shame on you. You certainly haven’t persuaded me to the rightness of your argument with your game-playing.

                    • Deployed = bring into effective action. The tasers were not deployed.

                      [Lionking, you have email. Please reply as soon as you receive it. – ScarletMod]

            • Are you being deliberately obtuse?

              Clearly I know the difference, which is why I said they would only be deployed if the protest turned violent ie there was criminality involved.

              • No Andrew, you haven’t got a fucking clue.

                There is no obtuseness here – just a fair degree of sheer redneclk stupidity on your part.

                If the protest had turned violent, as you suggest (and you weren’t there either, sunshine), what do you think would have happened had six cops fired their tasers at six people out of six thousand?!

                “Six down – 5,994 left to go.”

                Are you so drunk on American TV/Hollywood cop-fantasies that you think these things can be used like some kind of sf weapon?!

                You are a deluded individual if you think six tasers would’ve been much use against a crowd of thousands.

                They achieved nothing except antagonising some young people.

                In the end, it was the organisors and marshals who defused the situation using dialogue and patience until tempers cooled.

                If even one cop had drawn his/her taser, it would’ve ended in violence and perhaps tragedy. (A masterbatory fantasy for pro-cop, gun nuts like you, no doubt.)

                It is disturbing to me that the likes of people like you cannot see the obvious when it’s in front of there faces.

                Do I need to draw a fucking crayon picture for you?!

      • Andrew, playing word games doesn’t change the fact that the tasers were present and in full view and were a provocation we didn’t need. You should address the issues raised, not indulge in childish semantics.

    • Indeed, so what? Unfortunately the police know only too well the violent tactics deployed by some of these alleged protestors.

          • Do have any relevant comments to make, LK? Aside from deflecting onto a total non-related issue, I mean.

            As I wrote above, “What “violent tactics” are you referring to? You weren’t even there. “

            Veering off on an unrelated tangeant isn’t an answer. It is a cop-out.

            “Oh look – there’s a flag referendum!!”

                  • I inferred no such thing. In fact I stated clearly this protest was peaceful. But I have given, as requested, a specific example of one that was not.

                    • But that example you gave was no relation to the protest on Saturday, so it’s meaningless. You could point to any other “example” but it doesn’t prove anything.

                      You weren’t there so you haven’t a fucking idea what took place.

                      So your justification for having tasers displayed is a reactionary knee-jerk from a redneck.

                    • No I wasn’t there, but I can read, so I know full well what went on. A peaceful protest, under the watchful eyes of responsible police. Unlike the example I gave earlier.

            • Non related? Not so. You asked me for an example of the violent tactics of protestors. I gave you one, a recent one. This is precisely what the Police have to deal with from these animals. Hence the tasers. I trust you can understand now.

              • You asked me for an example of the violent tactics of protestors. I gave you one, a recent one.

                You used an unrelated event to try to validate your comments here.

                That suggests,

                (a) you are ignorant of what happened on Saturday,

                (b) you are clutching at straws to prove whatever point you’re trying to make.

                (c) You’re unwilling to address the points I raised above; that the deployment of tasers was unnecessary and provacative. Also futile when five or six police with five or six tasers confront 6,000 citizens.

                Are you really so shallow that you’re ignoring what went on, and instead refer to un-related events that happened somewhere else?

                Try answering the issues I raised in Point C instead of waltzing off somewhere else.

                Otherwise it’s fairly bloody apparent you’re engaging in prejudice rather than looking at the facts.

              • Tell me you little fascist, what good would half a dozen tasers have been against 5 or 6 thousand people?? Please tell us, so we know what goes on in thick skulls like yours.

                People like you advocate for increased arming of the cops but you won’t be the one picking up the bloody pieces after, will you?

              • But the examples you gave have no relation to what happened on Saturday, Lionking, so they are worthless.

                You weren’t present on the day so now you’re using other, unrelated situations, to prove your point?? I find that dishonest and a little bit childish.

              • Lionking, I’ve read your comments and all I’m getting from, you is a lot of evasiveness and sophistry.

                You admit not being at the protest.

                You admit there was no violence.

                But you still insist that the DEPLOYMENT of tasers was ok?? There is no logic to your argument, and I suspect there’s no reasoning with you.

          • Deflection much, Lionking?? Next time you want to discuss an issue like this, maybe you should actually BE THERE, and not blowing out your backside.

            I was at the protest and you are talking shit.

      • What are you on about? There was no violence at all. There was no need for having tasers and the only thing they achieved was to aggravate the situation. Maybe ignoramuses like you should actually be there before wanking on about something you didn’t see firsthand!!

        I was there. I saw what happened. Having tasers displayed was a provocation. Little wannabee fascists like you lionking make me sick.

      • Your pro-police sentiments verge on naive, Lion King. You are using “what if” scenarios to justify your desire to see ouir police turned into some kind of US-style police force, complete with armoured trucks and machine guns.

        There wasn’t ant violence on the day and yet you’re making out as if the threat was there.

        The only threat I saw was the provocation of police wearing tasers on their belts. You can dispute whether or not that is deployment, but playing word games is like you’re treating us as children. I resent that.

        If the police had not worn those tasers the demonstrators on the steps of parliament would not have been antagonised and run the real risk of violence.

        The weapons you seem to delight in very nearly resulted in violence.

        I can’t understand why you seem blind to this simple fact, especially since many of us were therre but you, by your own admission, were not.

        I can only assume you are a pro-police National party supporter or policeman or both.

    • @ wild katipo – Yep. Great timing eh?

      Fascism …

      A police state …

      Police acting on behalf of most glorious leader, the great dictator FJK …

      It’s part and parcel of NZ’s ‘brighter future’.

      John “we are on the cusp of something special” Key’s bright future that is! Not ours!

  2. Thanks for the info Frank.

    Yes, it’s a pretty scary scenario, when participants of a peaceful protest are confronted with a likely violent and dangerous situation, courtesy of a government agency, NZ Police!

    Is this part of NZ’s BRIGHTER FUTURE? Or is it being on the CUSP OF SOMETHING SPECIAL?

    Sad to say, but it seems like it to me!

  3. The ramping up of the rhetoric of threats and violence are becoming stronger as the resistance grows.

    Witness the statement of the US Embassy maligning the protesters and hinting at threats of violence.

    I would not put it past these people to inject agent provocateurs into the protests to justify the claims and as an excuse to shut down the opposition with violent repression.

    They have done it before.

    “The US Consulate is urging American citizens to avoid the march, saying the police estimate a crowd of about 8000 people.
    It said even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational, and reminded people to exercise caution around large crowds or protests.
    The consulate said the State Department remained very concerned about the threat of violence against its citizens around the world.”

    “The US State Department email also mentions the risk of a terror threat ay any large gatherings.”

    In my opinion throwing around the slur of a “terror threat” is an incitement to violence against the protesters by the US ambassador aimed at our security forces.

    That they turned up with tasers show that this incitement was taken seriously by the police.

  4. Yes Frank & Pat,

    Here on one hand;
    1/ Police are following NATZ orders to pounce on Martyn Bradbury for keeping John Mino’s Take your keys” alleging “inciting civil threats” blog on TDB.

    2/Then the police immediately arm themselves with inciting civil threatening behaviour by arming themselves at a TTPA march with weapons that can kill for the first time in NZ History?

    3/ Who are really inciting civil unrest here now?

    4/ We say it is the Police that have crossed that line with orders from NATZ who want civil unrest it seems.

  5. Tasers will probably be standard issue in future, accessory to go with the uniform. What really concerns me is the training/briefing now being given to the police. How are they being instructed? What are they being told? Is it something akin with the military where no one is allowed to have an opinion/thought but must immediately obey the command. If the military/police parallel is correct, then the police themselves could very well initiate a riot on command.

  6. Cops in Nelson wearing tasers as well. First time I have ever seen one, bright yellow and with wires visible.

    Not one cop I saw had their identifying number visible. So Springbok Tour. So illegal.

    So cops whose side are you going to be on? Your friends and neighbours? The people who have kids at the same schoolas your kids? Or the multinationals?

    Think hard dear boys and girls in blue. One way heads towards democracy…the other towards fascism.

    • There is no such requirement to wear ID.

      When questioned by the police you DO have a right to ask for an ID card and ask which police station they are working from.

      • “When questioned by the police you DO have a right to ask for an ID card and ask which police station they are working from. When questioned by the police you DO have a right to ask for an ID card and ask which police station they are working from. “

        You are incredibly naive, Andrew.

        One of the biggest problems faced by protestors in 1981 were Police hiding their ID numbers with long-coats.

        Requests for ID was generally met with the newly deployed long-baton.

        This is one statement from a protestor at the time;

        “And what of the Youth Aid people who come round schools and win the confidence of children and instill that Police I.D. numbers must always be displayed or produced on request?

        I didn’t see any police I.D. numbers on any of the marches I attended. They were hidden under police great coats (to which they could have been attached) and rain coats, and the weather was not always cold or wet.”

        ref: page 104,

        Here’s a photo from the time;×350.jpg?4f708e

        Feel free to Google others from the same era. You may be enlightened.

  7. One might also argue that 20 or 30 police would not have been much use had 6000 protesters decided to turn violent so there was no point in having a police presence.

    On the other hand you might have been quite pleased of those tasers if a bunch of thugs had decided to try and disrupt proceedings. I also imagine that had this been a demonstration in support of, for example, welfare cuts, you would have been all in favour of police having tasers.

    • Ben – ” I also imagine that had this been a demonstration in support of, for example, welfare cuts, you would have been all in favour of police having tasers. “

      You imagine wrong.

    • Ben, there was no violence. So the tasers did not have to be carried by police. All they achieved was provoking people and the police earned a lot of criticism from the people.

      You have to think these things through, not just give blind support to authority.

  8. I urge everyone to watch Chris Hedges on “the moral imperative to resist.”

    I was at the Wellington protest and was completely dissillusioned by the gutless reaction to moving beyond the barricades by the protest “leaders”. Telling everyone ‘the point had been made’ and ‘just walk away’.


    No wonder the left is moribund. What a joke.

    We should all just go home – because the State is quaking in its boots?

    Mass non-violent civil disobedience does not follow rules set out by the dominant culture. Can you think of any movement that got anywhere doing that?

    The protesters were non-violent. If we maintain non-violence and the State responds with violence than the tone is set.

    But if we just follow the cattle herding techniques of ‘legitimate protest’ then you just act out ‘safety valve’ democratic protest.

    Grosser already thinks we are children. They are laughing at us.

    They need to be scared of us. The stakes are too high to let these corrupt dinosaurs fuck our future. Fuck it economically and environmentally. Are we just going to let them do it? Seemed like it on Saturday.

  9. Actually, the cops were pretty well-behaved, they just stood back and guarded the doors to parliament after people jumped the barriers and occupied the forecourt and the lower steps. Not so the security guards, who got pretty aggro. Lots of unnecessary pushing and shoving and one guy thrown to the ground. Still all fairly minor in the scheme of things, though – no arrests or injuries.

    And a couple of the organisers did mis-play the situation by trying to order people to move back behind the barriers again, which just annoyed people. It was other people who started an open mic and got people up to talk. Though nobody really seemed to want to do more than get over the fences – to assert a right to protest where they chose, rather than where the authorities chose.

  10. It’s appalling when police try to demonstrate their ‘power’ at a peaceful gathering by displaying their weapons, their presence is a veiled threat, their weapons are an overt threat.

    I have to give credit where credit is due though. There was no police presence at all, at our protest gathering in Whangarei, 2-250 people. I spoke to the organiser that had notified police prior to our event and he was told it was our democratic right to do so. Perhaps now Mike Sabin is gone the decent peace officers can shine through?

    When we were standing by the roadside, waving our signs, every third if not second car tooted in support. So many more people are aware of what is going on than we may realize. Even towards the end, a random police car going about his business, (it was on a main road), tooted!

    Oh and I met the Labour candidate for the Northland electorate who strikes me as an intelligent woman, who is well researched on the topic of the TPPA.

  11. Were the cops with tasers the original cops monitoring the protest, or those who had to rush in off the street and their normal duties when things started getting out of control. If it’s the latter you can hardly expect them to drive all the way back to the station to put them back in the armoury and then drive all the way back etc.

    Sure if there is any evidence that those wearing the tasers were part of a ‘planned’ response you might have a point.

    • There were police cars fairly close by (5 minutes walk) where they could have been stored, locked in the boots (where they used to be kept prior to 31 July).

      The police who arrived on to Parliament’s steps came from somewhere, and the number of parked police cars in Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street shows they had either driven to the area, or were sitting in the parked vehicles. The fact they arrived within five minutes of protestors sitting on the bottom of the Parliamentary steps suggests they were stationed nearby, out of sight.

      There was no excuse for the tasers to be worn to the protest. They were provacative and unnecessary. Also totally futile when faced with 6,000 people.

  12. The increase in the show of force and the threat of state violence is the issue here.

    What if there had been a scuffle between the police or one of the security guards and one of the protesters, and instead of arrest the police used their tazers?

    In front of a big crowd this might not be the wisest move.

    What is the next step, tear gas?

    In all the history of political protest in this country I have never known of the use of tear gas. Not even in at the peak of the 1981 Halt All Racist Tour protests. Tazers weren’t available then but just as there was no call for tear gas then, there is no call for tazers now.

    This is an escalation. And for what reason?

    To intimidate the opponents of a trade deal that hands sovereignty to overseas secret tribunals?

    Because the US embassy said there was a risk of a “terror threat”?

    On what grounds?

    And if the US embassy sees protesters against the TPPA as potential terrorists is this also the view held by the police?

    Is this a healthy cultural outlook to cultivate in the police forces of a democracy?
    Especially where there is absolutely no evidence of any truth in the allegations made by the US embassy.

    My hope is that we never see the police turn up to a peaceful political protest in this country with tazers ever again. It is intimidation, pure and simple.
    Intimidation will not discourage people from protesting but intimidation tends to escalation.

    • hi pat,
      well put.
      to my mind this display of weaponry to the citizenry is all part of “normalizing” the tazer.

      i cant wait for the television ad campaign that follows. (sarc).

      unfortunately your hope, that police do not do this again (wear tazers to peaceful protest where children are present), will lead to disappointment.

      this reeks of being orchestrated from a long way back.

      the other concern is that children will see this regularly.

  13. I’d like to know just what the fuck our protesting has got to do with the bloody yanks in the first place!

    This is a legitimate protest in a supposedly independent country.

    Their ill informed comments have no relevance here and make it look like they are trying to exert pressure over our government and people.

    What, you cowboys think this is Panama?

    As for the Taser Squad,

    Short memories guys. In 1981 we worked out how to prepare for the loving attention of Ross Meurant’s blackshirts. Just apply the same logic.

    If the pigs want to go around looking like stormtroopers let them, it says much more about themselves and their government than it does of the protesters.

  14. Frank – have you seen this announcement:

    “All frontline police officers will soon be armed with Tasers while on duty.

    Police Commissioner Mike Bush made the announcement from police headquarters in Wellington this morning, saying the change was about enhancing the safety of New Zealand communities and police staff.

    Currently, frontline officers could access Tasers from a lockbox in police vehicles when required, however, the new initiative means tasers can be carried by appropriately trained, level-one responders, at all times.

    There were approximately 5500 police staff trained as level one responders, Mr Bush said.

    The implementation of the initiative would begin today but it would be weeks or months before frontline staff would actually be carrying a Taser.”

    It took them two weeks apparently.

    • Indeed, I had heard about that, Malcolm.

      There was also a quote from a senior police officer (Bush?) that tasers would not be deployed at peaceful protests – but I can’t find the quote, nor any reference, so I can’t swear to it.

      Still, those tasers came out might fast on this occassion…

  15. In summary, all trade negotiations are done in secret – it’s in the nature of the thing.

    So if you don’t know what’s in it, what are you protesting about?

    When Helen Clark signed the agreement with China were you protesting about that too?

    Any competent economist will tell you that expanded trade is a good thing. It has already uplifting many millions from poverty and hopefully this will do more to benefit all. It is widely recognized that trade barriers exacerbated the Great Depression and so we’ve escaped the 2008 GFC relatively lightly because we’ve continued to trade.

    On protesting: Whilst it may be fun, I recommend you save your marching for really important things. Also when you’re involved in a protest try to stay well to the back to avoid those manipulative organizing types you from pushing you into the cops and getting you into a fight you cannot win. You really don’t want to get a minor conviction unless you’re intending to be a permanent ‘class warrior’ (in which case you’ll need a private trust to fund your lifestyle) because having to tick the “do you have a criminal conviction?” box on arrival at a foreign airport wears really thin, very quickly and may limit your travel and career options for life.

    So my suggestion to young protesters is to focus on passing your exams and get into the the habit of thinking with your brains rather than your heart.

    • In summary, all trade negotiations are done in secret – it’s in the nature of the thing.

      More ill-informed rubbish from you, Andrew.

      Of course the “trade negotiations are done in secret” – from the public.

      Trade negotiators, however, have full knowledge of what is up for negotiation and what is on the table. Negotiators put forward an offer; other negotiators counter-offer. They are fully cognizant of each other’s positions and offers.

      Otherwise, you clot, they wouldn’t know what each other’s negotiating position/offers were!

      You’ve just shown the stupidity of parrotting Groser’s rhetoric instead of thinking the issue through.

      How thick can you be?

      So my suggestion to young protesters is to focus on passing your exams and get into the the habit of thinking with your brains rather than your heart.

      In other words, Andrew, follow your masters and never complain or disagree?

      By the way, would you say the same thing to Shane Ardern on the tractor; and

      You would love living in North Korea – no protesting allowed.

    • If the TPPA is so good for us Andrew, why is it being negotiated in secret?

      And why is Key only now admitting pharmac drug prices will rise? And why is dairy left out of the deal?

    • Andrew, protesting is not “fun”. It is what people do when they oppose their government. It is part of democracy.

      You DO believe in democracy, don’t you?

  16. The police are endangering their own health and their own lives by the use of the TETRA system and the police, fire officers and the public should know and read the confidential report written by Dr Barrie Trower , Royal Navy Microwave Researcher. Information was made available to NZ Government in 2000:

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