New Zealand officials play Barry Manilow, 'Macarena' to ward off anti-vaccine mandate protests

Officials in New Zealand tried to drive off anti-vaccine mandate protesters camped out on Parliament grounds in the country’s capital city by turning on sprinklers and even blasting music ranging from Barry Manilow tunes to “Macarena.”

The protests began last Tuesday, and at first, more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered around the Parliament in opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic health measures in the country.

Though police arrested protesters and officials turned on sprinklers around the demonstrators, Saturday evening Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard proposed using a sound system to play music by Barry Manilow, the 1990s hit “Macarena” and other songs on repeat.

Some protesters responded with music of their own, including Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

The music also includes an out-of-tune rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” according to Radio New Zealand.

Singer James Blunt called on officials to “Give me a shout if this doesn’t work,” tweeting coverage of the unique playlist at the protest.

Mallard responded that “we will take up your very kind offer” and joked that it may be unfair to police officers.

Mallard’s office on Monday declined to comment to USA TODAY.

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The protests in New Zealand’s capital were inspired by protests in Canada, where truckers and other demonstrators clogged streets and blocked border crossings to protests pandemic health restrictions there.

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Superintendent Corrie Parnell, the Wellington District Commander, on Monday said the “disruption to residents, schools and places of work, is creating real stress and concern, and people are feeling unsafe.”

Parnell added that some protesters have since moved vehicles that were blocking roads.

New Zealand implemented strict lockdowns and other health provisions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The country has reported 21,575 COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Zealand officials play Manilow, 'Macarena' for vaccine protests