Indigenous-led protests stall traffic ahead of New Zealand budget

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Protesters delayed traffic in New Zealand's largest city Auckland on Thursday, a transport agency said, following calls by activist groups and opposition party Te Pati Maori to take to the streets to protest the release of the government's budget.

Traffic was also delayed in Tauranga, on the east coast of the country's North Island, local media reported, as protesters drive slowly on the motorways as a form of protest.

Organisers have asked that New Zealand's Indigenous Maori people and those who support Maori to go on strike and attend rallies on foot and in cars to protest the government’s policies that affect the country's Indigenous population.

Further marches are planned throughout the country later in the day on Thursday, with protesters expected to rally at parliament at lunchtime.

The centre-right National-led government is due to release the budget at 2 p.m. NZST (0200 GMT), with lower taxes expected to be the centrepiece of a budget that is also expected to show worsening forecasts and falling revenue, underscoring challenges ahead.

Te Pati Maori party has raised concerns about a number of policies being passed by the government, which was elected last October, and the impact they have on the Maori community, their rights under the country's founding document and to make up for the wrongs of colonisation.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Jamie Freed)