Whanganui COVID-19 vaccine protest: Kaumātua felt 'sad' seeing 'our families out there'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was forced to cancel two visits to COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Whanganui and Hunterville because of protests. 

It comes as the Government digs further into the rollout, securing another 4.7 million Pfizer doses - enough for children and future boosters. 

The Prime Minister's day began with heated protests outside a vaccination bus in Whanganui on Wednesday, where she was scheduled to visit a vaccination clinic. 

"I feel sad when I hear our families - they're our families out there, our nieces, our mokopuna," Whanganui kaumātua John Niko Maihi told Newshub. 

"I'm surprised at how many people don't want to be vaccinated."

A local primary school came to see Ardern and spread the aroha, responding with a vibrant "yes", when asked if they support everyone getting vaccinated. 

The protesters also didn't put off James, who earned 10 cents off a litre of petrol for getting the first dose of the Pfizer jab. 

"That probably was another reason I came in too," he laughed. 

But the Prime Minister still cancelled the visit. 

"We're at a stage in the vaccine rollout where we're trying to reach into communities that may hold firm views," she told reporters. 

Ardern moved to the local council building for her press conference, where protesters tracked her down and surrounded the building. 

Another politician visited the protest - local National MP Harete Hipango. 

"I'm here to support my community," she said, when asked if she was there to support the protest. 

She left soon after Newshub clocked her, saying later she thought it was a protest about something else. 

The Government says the anti-vaxx movement isn't gaining steam. 

"A protest outside a vaccination clinic in my own electorate that we saw fairly recently, they were people who bussed themselves in from elsewhere, they weren't locals, and there is a very active - small - but active group of people who are travelling around the country," said COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. 

Small, active and this time, effective - protesters derailed the Prime Minister's second scheduled visit to a vaccination clinic in Hunterville. 

"A decision was made that it wasn't practical, if the idea was to get people vaccinated, to have an environment where people might be blocked from doing so," Ardern said. 

The Government is working to ensure no one will miss out, by ordering another 4.7 million Pfizer doses, including a million for 5 to 11 year olds, when and if Medsafe gives approval. 

Hipkins said it provides "continual supply of the Pfizer vaccine next year for those who didn't access the vaccine in 2021, but it also provides for us to extend eligibility to adolescents 5 to 11 years, and of course provides for a booster programme". 

This weekend is the three week anniversary of Super Saturday, so expect another national effort to get all the 39,024 Kiwis who got their first jab then, to now get their second - edging New Zealand slowly closer to that golden 90 percent threshold.