Thursday, March 23Welcome

Politics in 2022: Kid’s playground catches fire, bullying scandal rocks Congress

Make flu great protester again with gas mask in front of fire

The unprecedented anti-mandate protests in parliament shocked the country.
Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

It was a year of violent protests, parliamentary resignations and scandals. Needless to say, Covid-19 is still in our midst.

Here’s a rundown of what happened in New Zealand politics in 2022.


Perhaps the most shocking protest of 2022 was when anti-mandate protesters occupied Congress for weeks.

Protesters occupy chaos in Parliament's forecourt on March 2, 2022

The parliamentary occupation lasted for several weeks.
Photo: VNP / Johnny Blaze

Police moved to clear the demonstrators, resulting in a parliamentary stadium in flames.

On the afternoon of March 2, a fire broke out, an explosion occurred, and weapons were used against police, who were injured and arrested.

It was live-streamed by major news outlets as well as the protesters themselves.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the media she was angry and saddened to see parliament desecrated in this way, and said it showed why the government refused to engage with the group. .

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The parliamentary playground was set on fire in the chaos.
Photo: RNZMore

Ardern said the country has a forum for peaceful protest, but “this is not how we engage and protest.”

She said that peaceful protest is a way to send a message, and by comparison, this is “a way to bring it to court.”

It took three months for the Capitol to officially reopen after its restoration.

The decontamination cost Wellington City Council over $300,000, while the police action set up to respond to the squatters cost taxpayers over $430,000.

Christchurch Sunday groundswell protesters.

Groundswell protest.
Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Farmers across the country participated in many Groundswell protests throughout 2022. He said he was upset with the proposed emissions pricing scheme and said it would lead to higher food prices.

The Groundswell protest saw chaos among drivers, including tractors driving on highways and Auckland’s Harbor Bridge.

Rail supporters staged protests, bringing traffic to a complete halt in Wellington, upsetting drivers and frustrating MPs.

Restored passenger rail gantry protest in Wellington

Revive passenger rail protests.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreever

The protests have also resulted in many arrests.

The Passenger Rail Restoration Group claims to restore passenger rail service to 2000 levels.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said he was displeased on behalf of the thousands of commuters disoriented by such protests.

“I think these actions are dangerous and unacceptable. In fact, many people who have advocated for better public transport and better passenger rail have argued against my view that these actions are counterproductive. I agree with you.”


Trevor Mallard, Louisa Wall, Kris Faafoi and Simon Bridges said goodbye to Congress this year.

Trevor Mallard delivers his farewell speech to Congress.

Trevor Mallard has resigned as chairman.
Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Mallard resigned as Speaker of the House, announcing that he had been appointed New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Ireland.

Mallard served in Congress for 38 years and was first elected MP for Hamilton West in 1984.

His political career was colorful and not without controversy.

But he’s also a huge fan of children, and has gained international attention for feeding and cradling babies in the discussion room.

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Louisa Wall has left Congress for the first time in 14 years.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Former Labor MP Louisa Wall left Parliament in April for the first time in 14 years.

Although he has never held a cabinet position, Wall has a long track record in legislation, including a successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.

Labor Secretary Chris Fafoy announces retirement from politics

Chris Fafoy has resigned to spend more time with his family.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreever

Labor MP Chris Fafoy also resigned after 12 years as MP, wanting to spend more time with his family as his youngest son started school.

The National’s Simon Bridges resigned from politics in March in a shock exit that sparked a by-election.

Bridges said his decision to leave the company stemmed from his desire to explore opportunities in the corporate world and spend more time with his family.

Nationalist MP Simon Bridges releases his valedictorian statement

Former National Party leader Simon Bridges resigned from politics in March.
Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The Bridges have since moved to Auckland and Simon Bridges is now CEO of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

Sam Affindell

The National’s Sam Affindel became a Tauranga MP following Bridges’ resignation.

Shortly after Affindel was elected, it was revealed that he had been kicked out of King’s College for beating a junior.

Sam Affindell

National Party lawmaker Sam Affindel admitted to being bullied at school.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rilstone

Further claims about Affindel’s time as a college student in Dunedin came to light, and Affindel was dropped while an investigation was conducted.

The investigation did not substantiate allegations that Affindel had been bullying outside of his time at King’s College, and he was welcomed into the National caucuses.

Gaurav Sharma

While the National Party was dealing with bullying allegations surrounding Sam Affindel, Labor was dealing with its own alleged bullying scandal.

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma was expelled from the Labor Party after becoming a rogue.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rilstone

Former Hamilton West MP Gauraf Sharma wrote a lengthy post on social media, writing an opinion piece alleging parliamentary bullying.

He also shared a screenshot on social media of a message that he claimed was from a fellow congressman who also alleged bullying by former whip Kieran McAnulty.

Sharma was eventually expelled from the Labor Party and later resigned as an MP, sparking a by-election.

Covid-19 restrictions eased, borders reopen

In 2022, heavy restrictions due to Covid-19 have been implemented and restrictions have been (almost) completely removed.

An Air New Zealand plane at Auckland Airport.

New Zealand’s borders have been reopened to the world.
Photo: Unsplash / Douglas Bag

In August, the New Zealand border was fully reopened, starting in May.

In September, the traffic light system was abolished and the mask requirement was abolished. Currently, people are only required to wear masks while in medical facilities and aged care facilities.

Household contacts of Covid-19 cases no longer need to be isolated with infected family members, ending all government vaccination mandates.

This is despite thousands of Covid-19 cases still being announced every day.

local government elections

Last October, local elections elected new mayors in most of the major cities.

Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin have new mayors who are more likely to be politically to the right than their predecessors.

Wellington was an outlier, electing former Green Party official Tory Wanau as mayor.

Tory Wanow

Wellington Mayor Tory Wanau.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rilstone

Oakland elected Wayne Brown and put Epheso Collins in the top spot.

Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt, who has served for 24 years, said he was devastated by the lack of seats on the council floor after losing to deputy mayor Nobby Clarke.

Gore elected 23-year-old Ben Bell as mayor, making him the youngest mayor in New Zealand history.

Ben Bell, Goa

Mayor Gore Ben Bell.
Photo: Provided / Facebook

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern publicly endorsed Auckland’s Collins and Wellington’s Paul Eagle, but neither won.

She congratulated all the winners in a statement.

“We don’t always agree, but I absolutely believe that we all enter politics with very similar motivations – to do what’s best for our community.”

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