Shocking video shows the moment Jacinda Ardern’s van was run off the road in a chase by anti-vax protesters, with the PM giving a classy response.
Jacinda Ardern has shrugged off the moment her van was chased and forced on to a kerb by anti-vaccination protesters, telling reporters that “at no point was I worried about my safety”.
Footage of the incident made the rounds online in recent days, showing the group use their own vehicles to attempt to block the New Zealand Prime Minister in the Bay of Islands.
The group can be heard shouting abuse at the vehicle, believed to contain Ms Ardern, as officers with the Diplomatic Protection Service stood guard.
“Shame on you!” one voice yelled, adding, “We do not consent.”
Another protester pointed out Ms Ardern and claimed she was “hiding in the van”, going on to describe her as a “wussy” and “a Nazi”, among various other obscenities.
The video, shot on the waterfront in Paihia and posted to social media last week, shows the Mercedes V-Class attempt to pull out on to the main road, taking to the footpath to avoid a car attempting to block it in
A woman in the car pursuing says, “Oh this is fun! We‘re on a chase”, before a man says the group just wanted ”a few words” with Ms Ardern.
“We’re in pursuit for the Prime Minister,” they joke as they follow the Mercedes 7-seater.
Asked about the incident on Tuesday afternoon, the PM was unruffled, describing it as “just another day”.
“At no point was I worried about my safety or the safety of anyone that was with me,” she added.
“Every day is faced with new and different experiences in this job … We are in an environment at the moment that does have an intensity to it that is unusual for New Zealand. I do also believe that with time it will pass.”
The car chase comes amid a small but notable rise in threats towards officials involved in New Zealand’s pandemic response, according to police data released under the official information act to 1News this week.
Threats towards politicians reached a three-year high in one month last year, according to the data, with those considered serious enough to trigger a report to police reaching an average of about five a month toward the end of 2021, but spiking at times to 16 per month.
Most of the reports – which involved threats to injure, harm and assassinate politicians – were aimed at Ms Ardern.
Security expert and former police officer, Lance Burdett, who protected former New Zealand PM Helen Clark, said Covid-19 vaccinations had become a sticking point with a small minority.
While close to 95 per cent of adults in New Zealand are now fully vaccinated, some have strongly resisted either getting the jab or the mandates that have come with it.
Under current regulations, those who are unvaccinated cannot dine indoors or visit businesses like hairdressers and gyms, and about 40 per cent of the nation’s workforce is covered by mandates.
“People who aren’t okay with being vaccinated are feeling a little cornered and, of course, this sort of behaviour is going to continue,” he told 1News.
“New Zealand’s always prided itself on the Prime Minister having ready access to the community. That might be under a little more scrutiny now.”
Ms Ardern told reporters on Tuesday that being subject to these incidents was simply part of the job.
“I see that as just being a reflection of the fact that we are the decision makers,” she said.
“And if people don’t like the decisions that are being made, then it’s us that of course will hear the feedback about that.”