Kiwi documentary filmmaker David Farrier has spoken out about his unique perspective on 5G conspiracy theories after he became a target of activists.
Since the start of New Zealand's COVID-19 lockdown, there have been 17 arson attacks on cellphone towers across the country. The fires are believed to have been lit by conspiracy theorists claiming 5G cellular networks are the cause of COVID-19, a coronavirus which emerged in the Chinese province of Hubei late last year.
The claims have been rubbished by scientists and Farrier - who featured in a commercial promoting 5G last year - said in an article published by The Spinoff on Monday that after copping abuse, he decided to join some anti-5G Facebook groups to observe the expanding movement.
Farrier, who in the past has interviewed veteran conspiracy theorist David Icke, told The Project on Monday people had accused him of "being in cahoots with the deep state".
"It came out of nowhere, which was a real surprise to me."
What surprised Farrier most is that these conspiracy theories were becoming popular in a place like New Zealand, he said.
"Traditionally, I've had to travel to find the weirdest stuff so you'll go to Los Angeles for a tickling ring or Fukushima for nuclear tourism, whereas this is all happening in New Zealand.
"Generally we're pretty stable in the way we view things whereas this whole 5G conspiracy - and a lot of conspiracy theories - are happening here very quickly."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dismissed the 5G/COVID-19 connection as out of hand, saying it was only fueling more speculation from conspiracy theorists.
"The Facebook groups that I've joined - some of those have gone from 3000 people pre-pandemic to 13,000 people now so it's growing, which is really alarming," Farrier told The Project.
He said people should try not to get angry with conspiracy theorists, instead have a reasonable conversation.
"The trouble is, though, if people are posting these things already the chances are you're not going to be able to talk them back around with any kind of facts," he said. "One of the best things you can do is try and explain to people the origin of this thing - this concept started four years ago, it's escalated through a number of networks [and] it's just been blown out of control."
According to the website of Ardern's chief science adviser, "There is no evidence whatsoever that coronavirus is in any way connected to 5G".
"It's a weird thing where these two conspiracy theories have come together," Farrier said. "So the 5G stuff has been going on in New Zealand for a couple of years now - when COVID hit the conspiracy theories around that just exploded and there was this idea that began to go around."
Many countries who don't have 5G - including Iran and Egypt - have been hit by COVID-19.
Earlier on Monday, New Zealand telecommunications forum head Geoff Thorn told The AM Show that damaging cell towers can cut off communities and put lives at risk.