New Zealand authorities have turned to the music of James Blunt in their latest musical effort to move protesters camped outside parliament.
The demonstrators, who are angry about COVID-19 vaccine mandates, were initially bombarded with Barry Manilow’s greatest hits – plus the 1990s dance tune Macarena – all played on a loop from one of parliament’s loudspeakers.
But on Saturday evening UK time, British musician Blunt tweeted an offer of help.
Sharing a news story about the protesters being blasted with the sounds of Manilow, he wrote: “Give me a shout if this doesn’t work @NZPolice”.
A few hours later, it appeared his offer had been accepted, with the star’s most famous hit You’re Beautiful being played over the loudspeaker.
Protesters seemed undeterred, however, singing other songs over the hit, and dancing in the rain.
The protests in New Zealand began on Tuesday when a convoy of vehicles arrived at Wellington’s parliament buildings, adopting the name Convoy For Freedom and blocking some of the city’s streets.
Numbers dwindled on Wednesday but increased again over the weekend.
The protesters have been inspired by similar rallies in Canada but their list of grievances has expanded to include general dissatisfaction with Jacinda Ardern’s government.
On Thursday police said they had arrested 122 people, charging many with trespassing or obstruction.
Authorities turned to music after the use of water sprinklers failed to dislodge the protesters.
The other artists used to annoy protesters
The loudspeakers have also played Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, the Frozen hit Let It Go, and viral children’s song Baby Shark, as well as COVID vaccine messages.
Lockdowns and border closures have kept COVID-19 death and infection rates very low in New Zealand.
Some 94% of those aged 12 and over have had two doses of a COVID vaccine, but there has been anger about rules requiring widespread use of vaccine passes.