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Hundreds of Aucklanders arrested after illegal mass gathering on Harbour Bridge

An enormous drive-in party, shown here, was held this morning on Auckland's Harbour Bridge, where police were forced to intervene.

An enormous drive-in party, shown here, was held this morning on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, where police were forced to intervene.

Hundreds of Aucklanders were arrested this morning on public health grounds, after an apparent illegal mass gathering on the city’s Harbour Bridge.

Police say hundreds of Aucklanders gathered in their cars for what appeared to be some kind of drive-in party, and were well in excess on the 10-person limit on gatherings.

“We were called out to the bridge this morning, around sort of the early hours, just before work,” said Auckland District Commander Karyn Malthus, “and we saw just hundreds and hundreds of cars on the bridge there, apparently gathering, they weren’t moving, certainly not going anywhere. Just milling about, honestly.”

Malthus said there were so many people at the gathering that police were forced to access the bridge on foot, as roads to the party were completely blocked both by those participating, and thousands more lined up to join in.

Malthus said she understood that 100-person gatherings would soon be allowed in Auckland, but even then it “amounts to an excessive violation of Covid health restrictions.”

She said gatherers were treated in line with the New Zealand Police policy of “educating first.”

Those on the bridge were educated by being pulled out of their vehicles, arrested, and charged with a criminal offence.

Malthus hopes it will serve as a warning to anyone else thinking of flouting gathering restrictions.

“This is really serious stuff,” she said. “It’s serious stuff any of the time, because of the health risk, obviously, but if you’re going to do it, please not on the bridge.”

She was disappointed to have received early reports of another gathering forming on the bridge as early as 5:30pm this evening.