Green MP slams Heather du Plessis-Allan after interview with teen climate activist sparks bullying allegations

Green MP Julie Anne Genter has hit out at Newstalk ZB broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan after an interview with a teenage climate activist sparked bullying allegations. 

The Newstalk ZB drive host came under fire over her treatment of School Strike for Climate spokesperson Izzy Cook during an interview on Friday. 

The interview was centred around the climate group's latest demands which focused mainly on agriculture including banning synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and halving the size of New Zealand's cow herds. 

But the interview took a turn when du Plessis-Allan started asking about air travel - another area of concern for the group. 

Du Plessis-Allan asked how the group would like to see air travel restricted and asked whether Cook thought travelling for a conference was necessary, which she didn't. 

Du Plessis-Allan then asked whether it was okay to travel to Fiji. 

"Is that necessary?" she asked, to which Cook replied, "In the current climate crisis I don't think that is necessary."

"When was the last time you were on a plane?," du Plessis-Allan then queried.

"Mmm, I'm not sure, maybe a few months ago to be honest," Cook said. 

Du Plessis-Allan then asked where she went, to which Cook replied "Fiji" prompting the broadcaster to roar with laughter.

Du Plessis-Allan then continued to laugh while asking Cook whether she was serious. 

Cook then revealed it was "pretty ironic" but said it was a trip she didn't actually want to go on but was taken there by her parents. 

The interview sparked anger online and prompted Cook's mother Rose Cook to write a scathing opinion piece for The Spinoff in which she accused du Plessis-Allan of bullying her 16-year-old daughter.

Du Plessis-Allan also faced criticism from Green MP Julie Anne Genter who hit out at the interview on Twitter. 

"It is bullshit to shame people for living in a world reliant on fossil fuels. Anyone who does this (.@HDPA) is trying to silence advocacy for systemic policy changes to protect our planet. You don't need to be perfect to be on the right side of history," Genter said.

"Especially a young person who is still at school, who has had no hand in creating this fossil fuel-dependent system. 

"Young people have every right to call for us adults to sort it out now. We don’t have time to wait. They need us to be responsible."

The interview also proved contentious online with numerous people voicing their displeasure. 

"Mocking anyone is cruel and unnecessary. HDPA was bullying a kid. The kid's message was a great message and deserved airtime," one person said. 

Another called for du Plessis-Allan to apologise while another hit out at her for criticising Cook for something out of her control.

"Imagine laughing hysterically at someone who is in the tricky position of being mature enough to try and enact future change, but not quite old enough to be allowed to stay home without your parents for a week," they said. 

But not everyone agreed, with controversial broadcaster Sean Plunket tweeting his support. 

"I think Izzy may have learnt a valuable lesson about the difficulty of walking the talk and the importance of truly thinking and talking for yourself. HDPA did what any journo would do and tested the veracity of someone willingly in the public eye," Plunket said. 

Newstalk ZB has been contacted for comment.