Jacinda Ardern confirms she will remove COVID-19 vaccine mandates when they are no longer needed

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the Government would "look to remove" COVID-19 vaccine mandates when "they're not needed".

Her comments came after the National Party called for the Government to outline its end date for vaccine mandates. 

Leader Christopher Luxon says he completely disagrees with the abusive behaviour of anti-vaccine protests at Parliament but wants a clear timeline with criteria for when the country steps out of using mandates.

Parliamentarians collectively denounced the dissenters on Wednesday. 

"I think everyone deserves a right to protest but I think when it's becoming quite antisocial and abusive, that's a big problem," Luxon told reporters. 

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said: "It's difficult to identify exactly what their cause is sometimes."

ACT leader David Seymour added: "It's possible to have a peaceful protest but what they're doing is far too intense."

Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard told them to take down the tents, issuing rules they must abide by or be trespassed. But the Speaker has no power to actually trespass them himself - that's up to the cops. 

"The decision around the management of protests - whether on Parliament's forecourt or indeed anywhere - it is a matter for the police and it's an operational one that for good reasons you don't want politicians intervening in," said Ardern. 

The protestors do want action from politicians. They want to stop vaccines and stop mandates.

"Recognise people I know out there and it's sometimes quite tough to see people you know have such violent disagreement with my views," said National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop. 

And while outside those people screamed, inside there was a calmer call for debate on mandates. The National Party wants an end date.

"All we're asking for is what will be the trigger, what will be criteria, what's the time plan needed for when the Government will step out and vaccine mandates become less relevant," said Luxon. 

Ardern said: "We only want to use things like restrictions and passes and mandates for so long as they are providing safety for the community.

"When they're not needed, of course, you'd look to remove them."

National is raising concerns about the impact on society. 

"You can see the division they create and I'm not sure how tenable it is in the long-term to have people who are unvaccinated shut out from quite big sectors of society," said Bishop. 

Otago University Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist, says it's hard to plan in a pandemic but setting an end date isn't impossible.

"I think you could potentially set a date a long time in the future and review it," he told Newshub. 

National is being very careful to distance itself from the protesters.

"It's very different. That protest out there is an anti-vaccination protest," Bishop said. 

The protesters say they're anti-mandates.

"Well, you go outside, look at the Voices for Freedom signs - they deny the science of vaccination," Bishop said. 

Luxon said: "I don't support the protest that's happening out there."

It's perhaps unfortunate timing then to be campaigning for an end date to mandates.