After a weeks-long illegal occupation that ended in a riot, New Zealand’s parliament has a new unwelcome visitor to contend with: cannabis seedlings popping up among its rose gardens.
An eagle-eyed Wellingtonian spotted the tiny green leaves emerging from the soil this week and posted his find to social media. The man wished to remain anonymous, but a parliament groundskeeper confirmed to the national broadcaster, RNZ, that the plants were indeed “a few cannabis seedlings” thought to be left by the protesters.
“A lot of seeds had been scattered around, among other things left from the protesters,” the groundskeeper said.
A security guard added that it was “probably the first cannabis that has ever been planted on parliament grounds”.
A protester who had returned to the site told RNZ that the protesters were responsible for scattering the seeds and “many more will likely germinate for years to come”.
The plants, which are illegal in New Zealand, have since been pulled out and destroyed after the speaker of the house, Trevor Mallard, asked “for the weed to be weeded”.
The 23-day protest on Wellington’s parliament grounds was nominally about opposition to vaccine mandates, but was blighted by conspiracy theories, death threats, abusive behaviour and a riot that ended in violence and fires. The grounds were left muddied and charred by campers, who also tore up parts of the established gardens to plant herbs, vegetables and, it turns out, cannabis.
Following weeks of peace, high fences were erected around the grounds and the police presence upped again on Friday morning, after a new group said they would begin another 14 days of action to demand an end to all Covid-19 restrictions.
Two weeks ago, the government announced it would end some vaccine-mandates and the requirement for vaccine passes from 4 April. However, one protester, Tessa Jefferis, told RNZ: “There’ll be protest action until we, first, get an acknowledgment. Second, we get an apology. Third, we get justice. And fourth … personally, I’m not stopping until the Covid-19 Health Response Act legislation is obliterated.”