Jacinda Ardern has shrugged off concerns about her safety after her van was chased and forced on to a curb by furious anti-vaccination protesters.
Footage of the frightening incident, which took place last week, emerged on social media in recent days. In it, protesters shout slogans at the van, including “shame on you” and “we do not consent”.
A person inside the car can be heard saying “there’s Jacinda” and “this is fun, we’re on a chase”.
The car pursues the prime minister’s van and at one point someone calls Ardern “a Nazi” and hurls obscenities at her. The van is forced on to the curb to avoid the vehicle, before carrying on.
‘It will pass’
Asked about the incident on Tuesday, Ardern said it was “just another day”.
“At no point was I worried about my safety or the safety of anyone that was with me,” she said.
“Every day is faced with new and different experiences in this job… We are in an environment and the moment that does have an intensity to it that is unusual in New Zealand. I do also believe that with time it will pass.”
Ardern was recently forced to postpone her own wedding due to the introduction of new Covid-19 restrictions.
The prime minister was planning to get married this weekend but the celebration has been postponed.
“I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic and to anyone who’s caught up in that scenario, I am so sorry,” she said.
New Zealand had been among the few remaining countries to have avoided any Omicron outbreaks, but Ardern acknowledged last week an outbreak was inevitable given the high transmissibility of the variant.
The country has managed to contain the spread of the Delta variant, with an average of about 20 new cases each day. But it has seen an increasing number of people arriving into the country and going into mandatory quarantine who are infected with Omicron.
That has put strain on the quarantine system and prompted the government to limit access for returning citizens while it decides what to do about reopening its borders, angering many people who want to return to New Zealand.
About 93 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 52 per cent have had a booster shot. The country has just begun vaccinating children aged between 5 and 11.