STACY SQUIRES / Stuff
A car fire within yards of protesters occupying Christchurch’s red zone is considered suspicious.
A car has been destroyed in a suspicious fire, just 100 yards from tents that are part of Christchurch’s ‘freedom village’.
The campsite, in the Burwood part of the former residential red zone, first appeared just over a week ago.
The occupation drew the ire of locals and iwi, who accused them of “anti-social” and “aggressive” behavior towards residents, and of making “a clear attack on the authority of Ngāi Tūāhuriri'”, who holds the whenua mana status on earth.
Christchurch City Council also declared it in breach of its statutes and the band were told to leave.
* Hundreds of anti-vaccine and mandate protesters march through the streets of Christchurch
* “Freedom village” sets up camp in the residential red zone of Christchurch
* Anti-government protest group owes council $50,000, but organizer says it won’t pay
Fire and emergency team manager Darryl Ball said firefighters were called to Stour Drive, which runs through the same section of Christchurch’s red zone as the occupation, just before 10pm on Saturday.
Crews arrived to find a car well embroiled in the fire, which had spread to a nearby tree, he said.
Ball said the fire was extinguished within 30 minutes, but the fire was considered suspicious and police were notified.
Derek Tait, pastor of Destiny Church in Christchurch, leads a protest for freedom across the city.
A police spokeswoman said investigations were ongoing.
On Saturday, a group of around 200 people took part in an anti-government rally and march from Latimer Square in Christchurch.
The city council warned residents of the protest – against Covid-19 vaccinations and mandates, which included a march around town.
Protesters, including members of the National Front and the Covid-19 vaccine group Voices For Freedom, listened to far-right YouTuber Lee Williams before leaving Latimer Square around 11:20 a.m.
Williams told the crowd that all serving politicians must be “removed.”
A group of six tents were erected in the square on Friday evening, but were empty on Saturday morning.
Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait also attended the march, but said he was not affiliated with the group occupying the Red Zone.
The “freedom village” group first erected tents and towed caravans into the red zone on April 1. .
Anti-warrant demonstrators from Cranmer Square in Christchurch are believed to be among those camping there.
On Friday, Christchurch City Council Parks Officer Andrew Rutledge said the bylaw was illegal.
“The area occupied by the group is a mix of Christchurch City Council reserve land and red zone residential land and the legal advice we have now received makes it clear that the provisions of our Parks and Landscapes Bylaw 2016 reservations apply,” he said.
“Our parks and reserves regulations clearly state that people cannot erect tents and structures, or park vehicles, on park or reserve land. They are also not allowed to remove vegetation.
“Now that the group is aware that they are occupying the land illegally, we expect them to do the right thing, which is to pack up their tents and structures, and leave the area peacefully after the weekend.”