Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Heckler forces PM Jacinda Ardern to abandon press conference in Northland

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ended a press conference in Northland early after being heckled by at least two people – one of whom was claiming to be a journalist.

Ardern and Māori-Crown relations Minister Kelvin Davis are in the region viewing the rollout of vaccinations, and were speaking to media this afternoon.

Ardern was answering questions from reporters, saying that she had seen multiple people getting vaccinated. She was being heckled throughout the press conference by a female member of the public, as well as having her answers interrupted by a man claiming to be a journalist.

“Sir I will shut down the press conference if this continues,” Ardern told the man at one point during the exchange.

The man continued interrupting, asking Ardern “why is the vaccine not working in Israel? And you are still pushing it”.

Ardern then told him he was being rude, to which the man responded: “It’s rude to lie to the public of New Zealand.”

Ardern then shut down the press conference.

“For our members of the gallery here, we might move to an inside venue. Unfortunately,
we have someone who is disrupting your press conference. So, we might reconvene,” she said.

Ardern and Davis then left the press conference.

The man has been identified as American Shane Chafin. Chafin, who trained as a pharmacist in the US, asked Ardern about the fatality rate for Covid-19.

Chafin said he worked for a little-known website claiming to be “a facts and evidence based platform … covering the stories that many mainstream media outlets will not”, continued to make unsubstantiated claims about the Government’s Covid-19 response and vaccine mandates.

He was then asked to produce his media accreditation, before flashing a card.

As the conference was halted Chafin’s cameraman shouted, they’re all fake media.

Ardern is in Northland to support the region’s vaccination efforts, with the region having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

She is accompanied by Davis, who announced an extra $23.3 million for eight Māori organisations and iwi aimed at boosting Māori vaccination rates, through the new $120 million Māori Communities Covid-19 Fund.

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