Parliament protests damage bill climbs: $242,000 children’s slide set on fire amid mass destruction
Watch live: Police in riot gear chased protesters from the Houses of Parliament lawn, only for more skirmishes to break out near the Cenotaph and nearby Lambton Quay.
A $242,000 slide that caught fire is among the extensive damage to Parliament grounds and surrounding areas.
Riot police stormed the Houses of Parliament lawn today, pulling down tents and driving protesters away from the site.
The aftermath revealed that a once lush green lawn had been transformed into a brown paddock of hay and dirt. A mountain of mangled tents and debris remains.
Outside the Houses of Parliament is a significant amount of graffiti.
Rioters also ripped bricks from a driveway to throw at police, who will eventually need to be replaced.
Berms have been damaged, landscaping will need to be redone and a large-scale clean-up operation is required.
Wellington City Council has a cleanup crew ready to go, but it remains to be seen if they will enter the site tonight.
A community clean-up is also organized to remove trash and other waste. Volunteers can sign up for the effort here.
During the chaos of today’s events, a fire broke out among the tents near the pōhutukawa trees that line the lawn outside the Houses of Parliament.
Huge plumes of black smoke filled the air, explosions could be heard and violent orange flames engulfed a slide and play area that only opened in 2019.
The slide is one of Speaker Trevor Mallard’s initiatives to make Parliament more family-friendly, welcoming and accessible.
The centerpiece of the play area is the slide, which was manufactured in Palmerston North and made from sustainable forest beech. The airbag material is made from recycled tires.
“Parliament belongs to all New Zealanders and I am delighted to see this play space come to fruition so that families and children can enjoy the grounds of Parliament and feel they belong, and are welcome here,” said said Mallard when the playground opened in November 2019.
Of today’s carnage, he said “I’ve never seen anything like it”, but wouldn’t comment further.
When approached to comment on the slide and the estimated cost of the entire damage, Mallard’s office said the president would not comment on security and policing issues.
A few months after the slide opened, it was revealed that it had cost $242,000, which National’s state services spokesman Nick Smith called “outrageous”.
The combined cost of the slide itself, consultants and civil works was $572,000.
Outside the precincts of Parliament, damage is the council’s problem.
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the site would be closely scrutinized as soon as it was cleaned up and secured.
“We’re not going to try to estimate the cost of the damage until everything is cleaned up so we can really get a good look at all of the public property.”
MacLean expected landscaping to be the main work the council should attend to.
But he added there had also been vandalism, including a lot of graffiti.
“There’s a lot of cleaning to do.”
MacLean said the council had a large clean-up team that would offer help to Parliament, Victoria University and anyone else who needed help.
“We have a big task ahead of us.”
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