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Students occupy Queen Street
Students occupy Queen Street

A protest which disrupted Auckland rush-hour traffic and saw dozens of people arrested has ended.

About 500 people took to central Auckland streets on Friday afternoon to protest changes to tertiary education funding in last month's budget, clashing with police who made 39 arrests.

A police spokesman told NZ Newswire the total number of arrests was revised down from earlier reports of 43.

The protesters staged a sit-in on Symonds Street, bringing traffic to a standstill, before moving on to the intersection of Queen and Victoria streets, where they again blocked the roads.

About 6pm, a group gathered outside Auckland Central Police Station with a large banner reading "Blockade the Budget".

The protesters dissolved by about 8pm, with traffic again flowing through the CBD.

The group - largely made up of students, supported by unions - were rallying against the government's moves to raise student loan repayments to 12 per cent and cut student allowance entitlements.

The protesters were angry at comments by Finance Minister Bill English following a 200-strong student protest last Thursday.

Mr English told a post-budget breakfast that students should "count themselves lucky they've still got interest free loans".

"Yes, there's a protest movement out there but who's really listening to them?" he said.

"They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket ... dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it."

The following day a smaller protest involving about 70 people was held outside the Langham Hotel where Prime Minister John Key gave a post-budget speech at a conference.

Two people were arrested last Friday for allegedly breaching the peace but were released with a warning.

NZ Newswire

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