COVID-19: Man records himself harassing vaccination bus workers in Auckland

A man has recorded himself harassing workers operating one of Auckland's mobile immunisation buses, subjecting the staff to a diatribe of anti-vaccination rhetoric. 

Video recorded by the man, who goes by the name 'Napoleon', shows him approaching a worker as the vaccination bus parks up on Bowen St in Waiuku, a rural town located near the Waikato border.

He strides up to the staffer, asking her "how's business". The woman says the bus has been at a local marae before asking the man not to film her, to which he responds that it's a "public place".

The man then begins walking alongside the bus, a fleet of which were deployed last week to drive up vaccination rates in Auckland communities with low uptake. 

It's hoped the buses will assist with the Government's goal of vaccinating 90 percent of eligible Aucklanders by October 4, when Cabinet will decide whether the region is ready to join the rest of the country at alert level 2.

"You know it's still experimental, the jab?" the man calls out to those on-board.

The worker can be heard asking another staffer on-board the bus to close its doors as the man continues to rant.

"Are you all ashamed of what you're doing? I would be too because you know it's experimental? And you know you're coercing people into experimental treatment? It goes against the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Do you know what the New Zealand Bill of Rights are? Heard of that? Are you informing people of what's actually in that vaccine? Yup, you're all ashamed." 

He pans the camera back to the worker, who is now recording the man's tirade on her phone.

They exchange a few more unintelligible words, with the man claiming everyone should be considered "essential" - before calling out Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government. 

The man then starts walking back to his vehicle, on the back of which is a trailer carrying the signage, "Fight For And Defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights".

The signage is also emblazoned with the words, "Stop the rise of a bureaucratic socialist tyranny", alongside photos of the Prime Minister.

"Look at that, bureaucratic socialist tyranny. Support your Bill of Rights. Don't work like these people, end up working against the New Zealand Bill of Rights," he continues.

'Napoleon' briefly turns the camera around, showing a shirt that reads: "We are all essential."

A spokesperson for the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre told Newshub the well-being of the workers who are operating the buses is a top priority.

"We are aware of a recent incident which took place involving one of our mobile vaccination buses in Waiuku," they said.

"The well-being of our partners who are now running the buses remains a priority and we are continuing to support them.

"Police are investigating and we are supporting their inquiry."

Byron Clark, a blogger and researcher into New Zealand's far-right, told Newshub the man in the footage has been on his radar for a while and allegedly participated in last year's anti-lockdown protest. He says he understands the man has also been trespassed for refusing to adhere to public health measures - during the footage, the man can even be heard saying he's "actually been trespassed" before.

Clark says people like 'Napoleon' thrive off social media, which provides like-minded individuals with a platform to band together and espouse their views.

"I don't think having the right information would change his views. What's different in recent years though is social media, which has given people like that a platform they wouldn't have had, say, 20 years ago. This means they find each other, form alternative social networks that make it harder for friends and family to pull them out of the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, and together influence more people toward their way of thinking," he said.

Clark says friends and family are usually the ones to make conspiracy theorists see reason - and those with a loved one who actively spreads misinformation shouldn't be scared to open up a conversation.

"I think some conspiracy theorists are probably a lost cause, but for the majority of people who are being influenced by misinformation shared online, they can be pulled back to reality by friends and family. It will be the strength of the relationship with that person that convinces them rather than the correctness of the information provided. 

"Those people probably wouldn't listen to someone like me... but they may listen to someone they trust who they know cares about them."

As of Friday, 4,917,531 doses of the vaccine have been administered nationwide, comprising 3,192,380 first doses and 1,725,151 second doses, according to the Ministry of Health.

More than 49,000 jabs were administered on Thursday.