An anti-vaccination protest outside an Auckland intermediate school left children distressed and ruined what should have been a special day.
The protest was directed at Birkdale Intermediate's decision to allow its school to be used to film children for an upcoming vaccine campaign.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the school on Wednesday as the children prepared to leave after their annual prizegiving assembly.
Police also attended, keeping an eye on the group and preventing them from going onto school grounds.
Masked parents turned up en masse outside the school to wait for their children as the small group of unmasked protesters collected at the front gates.
Some parents report that their children were left distressed by the protest, which resulted in the children being let out of school class by class, ruining their chance to farewell friends in other classes before the summer break.
Toni Bartlett, whose daughter attends the school, said the protesters' actions had coloured the day.
"Why would you do this on kids' last day of school for the year? They've been through enough already," Bartlett told the Herald.
"When you see a whole crowd of people and they're not even wearing masks, it's going to make any child paranoid."
She stressed that, for half of the children, it was their final year at the school before they moved on to secondary education.
"What a way to have a last day of intermediate."
She said that her own daughter suffered a massive spike in her anxiety due to the day's events and had to stick close to her teacher to get out of the school.
She said that children had already suffered enough social isolation this year and didn't need to have this final chance for connection taken from them.
Others in the local community vented their frustration on social media.
"OMG! They have no shame! And these anti-vaxxers have the nerve to say they are victimised," one person wrote.
One parent reported that her child had been harassed for wearing a mask and another said she felt for those children who didn't have a parent waiting for them at the gate and were confronted by the sight of police and protesters outside their school.
Another person offered a counter view, claiming that the filming at the school was inappropriate.
She referred online to a leaked email from the school which included local Labour MP Shanan Halbert's involvement in setting up the filming.
Halbert told the Herald he was asked by the Public Health Team if he could recommend a school that might be interested in participating in a campaign to support the rollout of paediatric Covid vaccination.
He said he suggested Birkdale Intermediate because the Principal "does an incredible job supporting local tamariki and their whānau".
"I was very disappointed that a small number of protesters attempted to disrupt the student's last day of school yesterday and the online engagement from many who are from outside of our community," Halbert said.
"I have worked hard with our community to achieve high vaccination rates and will continue to ensure that our tamariki have the same opportunity to be vaccinated at the request of many parents that have been in contact with me.
"Delta made its way to Birkdale in August with the 'Birkdale cluster' and I want the highest levels of protection afforded to everyone."
A police spokesperson confirmed to the Herald that they had a presence at the scene monitoring the situation, but said that no issues were raised.
The principal of Birkdale Intermediate refused to comment.