COVID-19: Grant Robertson denies Government dividing the country after Sir Dave Dobbyn Facebook post

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Roberston denies the Government is dividing the country after Sir Dave Dobbyn called out "unkindness" directed at people who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19.

New Zealand music icon Sir Dave took to Facebook on Sunday, declaring his own vaccination status but also condemning divisive behaviour against unvaccinated people.

"I am double vaccinated," he wrote. "I encourage it for everyone.

"But I call out the unkindness directed at those who haven't yet taken the step.  #fightCOVIDnothumanity."

Those comments came after Sir Dave on Saturday responded to a post on Twitter that said unvaccinated people "bloody well should" feel "isolated and picked on".

"I thought we're fighting COVID, not humanity," replied Sir Dave, who in a later comment also said, "mandates and authoritarianism could become far more lethal in the medium term".

The comments caused a widespread backlash on social media, with one expert saying it shows how polarising the vaccination topic is.

"Social media represents the extreme positions people would take on issues," Jess Berenston-Shaw, a social scientist, told Stuff

The Government confirmed last week vaccination certificates will be a major factor in New Zealand returning to normality. Under its new 'traffic light' system, which will kick in when the country's eligible population is 90 percent fully vaccinated, businesses will be allowed to open and operate at all times - so long as jab certificates are used.

Earlier in the month, the Government also mandated COVID-19 vaccination for health and education workers.

Despite Sir Dave's comments, Robertson told The AM Show the Government's goal was to work with people who weren't vaccinated. Host Ryan Bridge also asked him if the Government was dividing the country.

"I don't accept that analysis and I'm not 100 percent sure that's what Dave Dobbyn was really meaning," Robertson said. "I think what he was really talking about was… 'We need to work with people who aren't vaccinated and have those conversations.' That's certainly our goal - we've got people right around New Zealand who are just a little bit hesitant at the moment about it, they need a bit of support, they need a bit of information and we're here to provide that."

Robertson said the population needed to be vaccinated so New Zealand could move forward.

"We've outlined a pathway for that. Yes, it involves vaccine certificates playing a really big role.

"If people choose not to be vaccinated then they'll still be able to access services and goods and so on, but it'll be a bit more limited.

"This is the right thing to do for all of us - and we've just got to work through it carefully." 

He said the vaccine certificate's details were currently being finalised.

"The work on the certificate itself is progressing really well - we've shown people what it looks like and it'll be available when we get this going.

"We're working towards those dates in November to do that."

Under the new 'traffic light' system, venues can operate without restrictions under 'green' and 'orange' and can stay open under 'red' with some restrictions. 

If vaccination certificates aren't used, venues will be limited to 100 people - even under 'green' settings.