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Protesters block streets in Wellington causing delays for motorists. Video / Katie Harris
An infamous Australian far-right misinformation superspreader is among the people who may attend an anti-government protest at Parliament grounds on Tuesday.
Kiwi conspiracy influencer Chantelle Baker claimed on Facebook that YouTuber Avi Yemini and Rukshan Fernando, aka Real Rukshan, would be joining the masses in Wellington.
The pair are known to spread misinformation and falsehoods on social media in Australia.
But Baker described the two as “hard-working” and “independent reporters” who were coming to Wellington to hear protesters’ stories and inform Australians about what’s been happening in New Zealand.
Baker, one of the public faces of the anti-vaccine and conspiracy movement in New Zealand, is the daughter of former New Conservatives leader Leighton Baker.
She said she would be attending Tuesday’s protest because she wanted to bring awareness to Tokelau residents, who she claimed “are still being held under house arrest”.
Yemeni is a Melbourne-based social media personality, who was banned from Facebook, and is known for his extremist far-right ideology and comments.
He was convicted of unlawful assault against his former wife and sued by his brother for defamation.
In 2018, at a protest demonstration against imprisonment of the far-right British activist, Tommy Robinson in London, Yemini said he was “the world’s proudest Jewish Nazi”.
In June, Victoria Police also apologised to Yemini for wrongfully arresting him three times during protests in Melbourne in 2020 and 2021 while the self-described “citizen journalist” was filming for alternative media website Rebel News.
Fernando, meanwhile, is described by mainstream Australian media as a Sri Lankan-Australian wedding photographer who has become a hero for those supporting Melbourne’s anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protests.
Rukshan has also been listed as among the top 100 misinformation superspreaders by the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun.
Immigration NZ’s acting general manager for border and visa operations Michael Carley said there are certain conditions temporary visitors to New Zealand must meet in order to be eligible for entry.
“The onus is on the visitor to satisfy Immigration New Zealand that they meet all of the entry requirements at the time they travel to New Zealand, this includes being of good character,” Carley said.
“One of the reasons people are refused entry is not meeting character and criminal convictions is one factor which we take into account. Australian citizens are still expected to declare criminal convictions before being allowed entry to New Zealand.”
A police spokesperson said they had no comment on the Australian pair but they were aware of protest activity planned for Wellington on August 23.
The Freedoms and Rights Coalition announced the group was planning a protest on Tuesday in Wellington, following similar events in Auckland and Christchurch recently. A counter-protest group is also expected to gather near Parliament.
It comes almost six months on from the 23-day anti-mandate occupation at Parliament that was brought to a violent and fiery end.
In anticipation of Tuesday’s protest, road closures would be in place at the Parliament end of Lambton Quay, lower Molesworth St and Kate Sheppard Place from 10pm on Sunday.
A police spokesperson had said previously, that a traffic management plan would also be in place to restrict unauthorised vehicle movement and parking around Parliament from Sunday evening until the end of the protest.
People who worked in the area or commuters who travelled through it were advised to plan ahead. However, traffic disruption was expected to be minimal.

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