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Government & legal system

Different types of protests

Occupations and sit-ins

Occupations can be of public spaces like squares and parks (like the Occupy movement), public roads or footpaths, or private spaces. To occupy a privately owned space you’ll usually need the owner’s permission, otherwise you can be charged with trespass or have court orders made against you to forcibly stop your protest. For information about Māori-led land occupations, see: “Whenua Māori me Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Land occupations and claims under the Treaty”.

Are sit-ins legal?

Generally, these are legal. But you should allow others to cross the sit-in so as not to infringe on their right to freedom of expression, which they are exercising by not participating in your protest.

Can I block a road?

Summary Offences Act 1981, s 22

Blocking roads through sit-ins or large marches can be a very effective form of protest and awareness-raising. However, there is an offence of continuing to block a road or footpath after having been asked to stop by a police officer. For this you can be fined up to $1,000.

Often a local council will allow you to protest on or march along a road if you notify them first so they can make arrangements for the safety of the protestors and the general public.

Sometimes the police will stop traffic for you while a march occurs.

Can I prevent people from crossing our picket line?

Legally, no. This is interfering with another person’s freedom of expression.

Next Section | Marches

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