Coronavirus: The Breeze Christchurch radio presenter Dave Dunlay fired over lockdown breach

Dave Dunlay.
Dave Dunlay. Photo credit: Facebook

The Breeze Christchurch radio host Dave Dunlay has been fired by MediaWorks after breaching New Zealand's COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Dunlay, who was the host of The Breeze Christchurch morning show, travelled from his home to another location during the country's alert level 4 lockdown, a MediaWorks spokesperson said.

The company said it was "incredibly disappointed" to learn of his actions.

"While we were in alert level 4 lockdown, Government direction was very clear that no one was to travel over Easter," a spokesperson said.

"Despite this, Dave Dunlay decided to proceed with a prearranged trip and travelled from his house to his holiday home for the Easter weekend where he stayed for several nights - a decision that we found incredibly disappointing.

"This was a clear breach of trust and his actions compromised the safety of his colleagues. We consider what Dave did, to be both legally and ethically wrong and therefore we terminated his contract. Although Dave was a contractor, we have the same level of expectations as we do for all of our people."

On Friday, Dunlay posted a statement online saying he was "embarrassed and frustrated".

He said his contract was terminated on April 17 after his colleagues "expressed their concerns" to his manager.

The lockdown breach happened the week before Easter when he drove to his lifestyle farm in Canterbury's Banks Peninsula where his wife and daughter were spending alert level 4, he said.

"My daughter has just returned from overseas and initially spent time alone in order to self-isolate. When it became safe, my wife went to join her to take her food supplies, but she forgot to take essential medicine for our 14-year-old dog Squeaky, which she ordered online after lockdown," Dunlay wrote on Facebook.

"The vet said getting the medicine was covered under essential travel. I also brought with me food and supplies for my daughter and wife. I also needed to support our daughter, who had experienced a very stressful time leaving the UK on the last flight before borders shut. 

"MediaWorks decided their interpretation of the COVID-19 lockdown guidelines meant my reasons to travel were not good enough and terminated my contract because my actions could risk damage to their reputation."

He said in the post he understood people would think he's an "idiot".

"I don't want the last few weeks to negatively mark my close to 40-year career in [the] media, as this career has taken me throughout New Zealand and the world," he said.

"I will remember my time spent with the Breeze Canterbury audience fondly, and the great people I have worked with in radio."