A second Northlander to help champion a High Court challenge towards vaccine mandates is hopeful an "emotional journey" for the country's teachers will end today.
A judicial review into the lawfulness of the Government's Covid-19 vaccination mandates for educators and health workers began in the High Court at Wellington on Thursday.
New Zealand Teachers Speaking out with Science (NZTSOS) and New Zealand Doctors Speaking out with Science (NZDSOS) have taken the Covid-19 Response Minister, Director General of Health and Attorney General to court.
The groups are seeking that High Court Justice Francis Cooke strike down the vaccination order.
They claim the vaccination mandate is not a "demonstrably justified" breach of the Bill of Rights Act, namely the right to decline medical treatment.
The High Court challenge also questions the usefulness of vaccination mandates in an Omicron environment, pointing to comments from some medical professionals suggesting that the variant's extreme transmissibility renders mandates unnecessary.
Mike Shaw, NZTSOS spokesman and Kaikohe Christian School board of trustees representative, has his fingers crossed that the vaccine mandates will be quashed today.
Shaw said staff negatively impacted by the mandates had given up hope when their first legal challenge was dismissed by High Court Justice Matthew Palmer in November.
"But we're optimistic this time around, given the results with the police and the defence force as we've got some similar evidence being put forward."
Shaw said they had 81 affidavits from teachers and health workers nationwide – some of whom lost their jobs after declining vaccination – to support the challenge.
"One of our points is that we are not an anti-vax group. In fact, many of our members are vaccinated. This is purely against the mandates," he said.
Shaw is the second Northlander recently to be a major driving force behind challenging vaccine mandates inside the courtroom.
Former detective and ex-National MP for Northland, Matt King, was at the helm of the successful efforts to have the police and Defence Force vaccine mandates overturned.
As a result of February's decision, both police and the New Zealand Defence Force have suspended all terminations of unvaccinated staff.
In Northland, about 14 police officers were stood down after the first vaccine mandate deadline passed, and roughly 26 were yet to get their second dose four days out from the March 1 deadline.
Shaw said he and King had dropped each other a line from time to time to see how each was fairing in the build-up to the legal challenges.
"It kind of funny it's two Northlanders heavily involved with it...but we're rapt, we're stoked for the police and New Zealand Defence Force."
Shaw was motivated to become involved in getting the review to the High Court by his fears small rural schools and communities would be "devastated" by vaccine mandates.
"One principal described it to me as trauma upon trauma," he said.
The vaccine mandate was first announced in October last year with impacted educators required to have the first dose by November 15 last year and a second by January 1. The mandate was later extended to include a booster shot by March 1 - if eligible for that deadline.
Shaw and other teachers in support of the legal challenge were gathered outside the courthouse in the capital on Thursday for a "peaceful" and "lawful" protest.
"The civilians here have been under a lot of stress and that beef is not with them," he said.