Christopher Luxon hits out at PM Jacinda Ardern, denies he sympathises with anti-mandate protesters

National Leader Christopher Luxon is hitting out at the Prime Minister's suggestion he is dancing "dangerously close to sympathy" for the anti-mandate protesters, calling it "disingenuous". 

Jacinda Ardern's comments came after Luxon delivered a speech on Monday declaring New Zealand "increasingly divided", which he attributed - among other things - to the Government's COVID-19 response. 

Speaking on AM on Wednesday, Luxon denied sympathising with the protesters. 

"National's position hasn't changed from day one - we do not, have not, will not endorse the action of the protesters."

The National Party leader said Ardern's comment was "disengenous" and he has no support for the protesters. 

"The protesters have been abusing and disrespecting other Wellingtonians and if you're down there and see the treatment other residents and businesses are getting it's unacceptable.

"We have no support for that and we've been very clear about that... I think it's quite disingenuous for the Prime Minister to make those comments particularly because all I was challenging is that there is deep-seated frustration in New Zealand, and that fundamentally we don't have clarity about where we are going and just because you challenge the Prime Minister doesn't mean you should be slated."

Luxon said the protesters' behaviour is "totally and utterly unacceptable" but other everyday Kiwis are frustrated by the COVID-19 response.

"It's very clear that people are immensely frustrated. Law-abiding citizens who have done the right thing and gone off and got triple vaccinated, followed all the rules are really confused and lost about where we are."

Luxon said small businesses are struggling hugely and need more clarity around what comes next. 

The National leader also hit out at former MP Winston Peters for meeting with protesters on Tuesday. 

"Well that's a decision for him but I just wouldn't support that at all. We are rock-solid in opposition to the protesters. The behaviour down there has been utterly, utterly shameful and unacceptable. That is not how New Zealanders treat each other." 

It comes after violence erupted near Parliament on Tuesday with three officers hospitalised after having an "unknown substance" thrown on them. And a man was arrested after driving a car into police. 

Earlier in the week police also had human waste thrown on them. 

Ardern has refused to engage with the protesters instead repeatedly telling them to go home. 

"My message would be to anyone who is down there who believes that they are part of a peaceful protest: that is not what we've seen today. I would encourage them to leave," she said on Tuesday.