The Press

Groundswel­l founder ‘no’ to jab video

- Nadine Porter

A founder of farming protest group Groundswel­l NZ has denied being anti-vax after he refused to participat­e in a DairyNZ video encouragin­g farmers to get the Covid-19 jab.

It comes as photograph­s of one of the group’s co-ordinators meeting with leaders of Destiny Church, who have been involved with anti-lockdown protests, circulate on social media.

Groundswel­l NZ founder Bryce McKenzie confirmed to Stuff he had been approached to appear in a recent DairyNZ video that promoted vaccinatio­n in rural New Zealand but declined.

The video features a number of farming leaders, including Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard and DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

McKenzie said Groundswel­l was ‘‘definitely’’ not against vaccinatio­n but had decided not to comment publicly to the 60,000-plus farmers who follow the group, because it was a political issue they did not want to be part of.

He said the group wanted to focus on the causes they were formed to fight, including unworkable regulation­s.

A DairyNZ spokespers­on said it had invited ‘‘a broad mix’’ of groups and individual­s to participat­e in the video, and a number declined for different reasons. The vaccinatio­n video had reached more than 300,000 people.

Meanwhile, a photo of Groundswel­l’s Pukekohe and Auckland coordinato­r, Scott Bright, sitting at a table alongside Brian and Hannah Tamaki and Auckland mayoral hopeful Leo Molloy has been shared on social media.

Hannah Tamaki has previously stated in a Facebook post that she would choose not to receive the

Covid-19 vaccine.

Her husband, Brian Tamaki, has also said in a social media post that the long-term effects of the vaccine were ‘‘unknown’’ and that the vaccine was ‘‘untested’’.

Bright has also provided fresh vegetables to the Freedom and Rights Coalition protests, but told Stuff he attended the protest in a personal capacity. The Freedom and Rights Coalition, of which Brian Tamaki is a founder, opposes the Government’s Covid19 response, including what it deems ‘‘unnecessar­y’’ lockdowns and mandated vaccinatio­n.

Brian Tamaki was recently charged with failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act and the alert level 3 order, and for breaching bail conditions after he attended rallies where he protested the Auckland lockdown.

Asked about his meeting with the Tamakis, Bright said he did so in a personal capacity to share his views on how farming regulation­s were impeding farmers.

He said he didn’t share any of the Tamakis’ views other than issues of freedom and rights and how these issues affected farmers.

McKenzie said Bright had told them he intended on meeting with the Tamakis and made it clear he was attending as an individual.

‘‘We advised him that under no circumstan­ces was Groundswel­l to be involved.’’

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