Victoria University campus to be closed for month and a half due to protest activity

Protest activity in Wellington has forced the temporary closure of Victoria University of Wellington’s Pipitea Campus to be extended.

In a statement, the university said the site, now occupied by protesters, would remain closed to most students until Monday, April 11.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford said they were disappointed that the protests had created a disruption to their teaching and research. He also acknowledged the impact it has had on staff and students as they prepare for the start of Trimester 1.

“We would also like to express our thanks for the admirable resilience and resourcefulness of our university community. Our people—both staff and students—have risen to the unprecedented dual challenges of a campus occupation on top of the pandemic.”

He said senior staff had been working closely with the staff and students of the affected Faculties, which include Law, Government and Business, as well as other student groups and key stakeholders about the decision.

“We will continue to work with these groups to address any concerns students and staff may have around these new arrangements and the ongoing situation at Pipitea campus.”

First-year classes that would have been held at the Old Government Buildings or Rutherford House at Pipitea campus will now be delivered at Kelburn campus, as well as online.

Orientation tours for new students that had been planned to take place at the Pipitea campus will not go ahead. All other level courses will be offered solely online, with some exceptions.

Earlier today staff at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) were advised the building’s entrances and exits have been locked down due to the protest.

Those in the building were told via email that they will be unable to exit or enter the building until police have given the “all-clear”.

“Once we have the all-clear we will send another notification to let you know you can enter and leave the building,” the email said.

It also reminded staff to wear their ID cards at all times in the office, but not while out and about, as well as to be vigilant for people tailgating into the building.

Staff were also told to contact the security team immediately if they noticed anything suspicious.

MBIE has been approached for comment.

Today is the 11th day of the protest, which has continued to grow in numbers, and police anticipate a significant number of people will join over the weekend.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told the media that negotiation and de-escalation were the only way to resolve the protest now.

He said they had assessed that any enforcement action would run the risk of wider harm than the protest was already creating.

“We continue to carefully navigate our options to reopen the roads, but the most desirable way to end this safely is to encourage open communication channels.”

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