Nov 27, 2021 1 min, 59 secs

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — When Josephine Bartley, a councilor in Auckland, New Zealand, heard that a local Covid-19 vaccination clinic had been vandalized in early November, she drove over to survey the damage?

While the labour party councilor said she did not know if the trio were linked to the vandalism of the health center, which primarily serves the local Pacific community, the experience left her shaken. .

In a working paper published in November, a team of researchers in New Zealand said there had been a “sharp increase in the popularity and intensity” of disinformation around Covid-19 since August, when an outbreak driven by the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus that is responsible for the vast majority of New Zealand’s cases began. .

The researchers said the disinformation was “being used as a kind of Trojan horse” to coax New Zealanders from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine resistance, and then to the embrace of far-right ideologies like white supremacy and extreme misogyny.

Sam Brett, a student at the University of Canterbury who attended recent protests for his doctoral research, said they felt like a “miniature, New Zealand version of a Trump rally.”

Tamaki, who is out on bail after multiple arrests over his appearances at anti-lockdown protests in defiance of court orders and public health controls, did not respond to requests for comment.  But Martin Daly, a member of the Pentecostal church Tamaki leads who is also active in the Freedom and Rights Coalition, said he disagreed with the tribe’s directive. 

“There’s a lot of Maori iwi [tribal] leaders in our movement, up in the North Island, and they’ve said they’re speaking completely out of line,” he said. 

Hone Harawira, a Maori rights advocate and former lawmaker, said he respected people’s right to protest, but “not when that protest endangers the health and well-being of our whanau,” a Maori-language word for family and community. 

intelligence services, said he was concerned by the “importation of U.S.-style populist rhetoric” into New Zealand’s anti-vaccination movement, characterizing it as “tinged with violence and vulgar, dehumanizing disrespect for political and social opponents.”

Daly said that fears of extremists among the protest movement were misplaced, arguing it was an expression of broadly felt concerns about the erosion of civil liberties

“It’s about freedom of movement, to be able to gather, freedom of speech,” he said

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