Hamilton City Council mayoral candidate denies affiliations to Voices for Freedom movement

3:08 pm on 26 August 2022

A veteran Waikato politician who is hoping to be Hamilton City's next mayor is denying she's linked to anti-Covid-19 vaccination and anti-mandate group, Voices for Freedom.

Hamilton City Council mayoral candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips has denied connections to anti-vaccination and anti-mandate group Voices for Freedom.

Hamilton City mayoral candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips has denied having links to Voices for Freedom. Photo: Donna Pokere-Phillips

Donna Pokere-Phillips, who is co-leader of the Outdoors and Freedom Party, said she was not part of a coalition for any local government candidacy.

Her comments come following revelations this week that Voices for Freedom has been urging supporters to stand for local office, but not to declare their affiliation.

Although Pokere-Phillips denies having affiliations with Voices for Freedom, she regularly shares content across her social media platforms from other anti-vaccination campaigners such as Chantelle Baker and Liz Gunn.

She has also appeared on the far-right conspiracy theory website Counterspin Media, which promotes anti-vaccination messages.

And in a Facebook post earlier this year, she claimed up to 3000 people had died due to the vaccine and booster, making reference to a Medsafe Safety Report. The report included an analysis of observed versus expected deaths relating to the Covid-19 vaccine.

However, a Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand spokesperson told Local Democracy Reporting that the claim was inaccurate.

"In essence, the report shows that the majority of deaths among vaccinated people are coincidental, as would be expected when most of the population is vaccinated, based on the sheer weight of numbers.

"Further, of the 171 deaths reported up to 30 June, 137 of these were determined to be unrelated to vaccination, and three deaths have been considered to have a link to vaccination, one of which has been confirmed by the coroner as related to the vaccine so far."

Hamilton City mayoral candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips (R) has been interviewed on Counterspin Media, a far-right conspiracy theorist website that promotes anti-vax messages.

Donna Pokere-Phillips (R) has been interviewed on Counterspin Media, a far-right conspiracy theorist website that promotes anti-vax messages. Photo:

Pokere-Phillips, who is also trying to win a seat on the Kirikiriroa Māori Ward, has a long political history. She was an unsuccessful candidate in general elections for The Alliance in 1999, The Opportunities Party in 2017 and Te Pāti Māori in 2020.

She is campaigning on a platform to keep "local assets in local hands".

"This government is hell bent on bringing forward the three waters reform of our waste, storm and drinking water while ignoring the 'firestorm of opposition'," Pokere-Phillips said.

"Hamilton needs a fearless leader to take on this government who wants to steal our assets, I am that leader."

She is also pushing for a social housing programme.

"We have a housing crisis, over 1000 families do not have a place to call home. Current leadership have stated our civic building is not fit for purpose and want to sell it. I will utilise this asset to rehouse these families."

Pokere-Phillips said mana whenua needed to be involved at all levels of decision-making and she would "advocate to establish a joint decision-making process which puts our community in the driver's seat".

"I will ensure ratepayers' money is not captured, creating communities of haves and have nots."

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