Man claims he was abused, threatened with bashing by unknown group after heckling Nicola Willis

A man who heckled Finance Minister Nicola Willis at a press conference says he was verbally abused by a group of men before one of them threatened to bash him. 

A spokesperson for Willis said the minister wasn't aware of the incident and was in no way affiliated with those allegedly involved. 

On Friday, Willis was speaking to the media after an Auckland Business Chamber lunch at the city's Cordis Hotel.  

Peter Ward said he was staying opposite the Cordis and decided to confront Willis when he saw she was holding a press conference. While Willis was fronting the media, Ward was filmed interrupting her with quips including "tax cuts for landlords" and "tax is love". 

After the press conference, Willis approached him and was "very pleasant", he told Newshub. But, after having a "polite and friendly" conversation with Willis and Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges, Ward said he was approached by another group. 

"As I was leaving, I was kind of bailed up by some young men... they proceeded to surround me and call me names." 

Ward said he tried to de-escalate the situation but the men proceeded to abuse him. 

He said "f**k" and "c**t" were used in the slurs against him. 

Ward said one of the men then told him, "I'm going to take you outside and deck you". 

"It's like a schoolground bully situation," Ward told Newshub. 

"It was really a threat of physical violence. 

"[They were] getting right up in my face. 

"When he was saying, 'I'm going to take you outside and deck you'... I said, 'Well, can you please get out of my face?' 

"In the end... I said, 'Oh, you're a boy' - and I walked off." 

Ward admitted he was at the other end of the political spectrum to Willis but said he didn't characterise himself as a heckler. 

"I was just somebody who made a few comments and was asked to refrain, so I did so." 

He reiterated Willis was "polite" and "diplomatic". 

"We had a very pleasant chat... I said, you know, 'Keep up the good work' and we parted on very pleasant terms, as with Simon Bridges - so I was impressed. My gut feeling would be to think that I wouldn't like the woman but I was really impressed by her, and the same with Simon Bridges." 

Ward said he wanted to speak out about his experience to deter other such behaviour. 

"I could imagine them doing that to a young, frail, less robust person who had, in their view, 'woke' points of view." 

The Auckland Business Chamber has been approached for comment.