An organisation attacking public faith in New Zealand's Covid-19 strategy claims it has raised $50,000 towards printing two million virus "fact" flyers to be dropped nationwide - and is considering printing more.
The flyers, which Voices For Freedom intends to deliver to every letterbox in the country, outlines multiple conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines and their effects. Their contents have been described as "misleading" and in some cases "palpably false".
Voices For Freedom co-founder Claire Deeks claimed $50,000 had been raised from "hundreds of donors" for the mass drop.
On the flyer it states its information "does not constitute medical or legal advice".
People across the country have contacted the Herald, saying they had received the flyer. A mass printing retailer estimated the cost of printing two million of these flyers would be about $30,000.
When asked when she expected the entire two million flyers to be delivered, Deeks said the flyer drop would end when there were no more flyers, before suggesting more could be printed.
University of Otago clinical microbiologist and immunologist James Ussher said it was disappointing to see such harmful information spread across the country.
"These claims are misleading and misrepresent the reality of the situation, and many of them are palpably false," he said.
Ussher, the scientific director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, said the Pfizer vaccine - which was being used in Aotearoa - was shown to be extremely safe with more than 130m doses administered in the United States alone with no evidence of unmanageable side-effects.
Ussher said these flyers undermined trust in the vaccine which put New Zealand's future in jeopardy as borders slowly reopened, inevitably bringing the virus back into the community.
"If people aren't vaccinated then they will be at risk and they will eventually, one way or another, get infected and they're at risk of transmitting infection onto other people.
"The best way that we can control it, once the borders are open, is by having as many people as possible vaccinated."
Voices for Freedom is neither a registered charity or incorporated society - meaning it is not required to publicly release a financial statement.
Mark von Dadelszen, a Hawke's Bay lawyer specialising in not-for-profit law, incorporated societies and charitable trusts, expressed concern about donating to such an organisation.
"In the absence of a formal structure, certainly my advice would be not to donate to that sort of cause because of the inherent lack of accountability."
When asked about this, Deeks said annual accounts would be published voluntarily, likely to include incoming funds and outgoing expenses.
An earlier version of this story stated $10,000 was raised between the organisation, Voices for Freedom, and fringe political movement Advance NZ to print and distribute 60,000 copies of a 48-page magazine "The Real News", accused of promoting Covid-19 falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
An earlier version of this story stated $10,000 was raised between the organisation, Voices for Freedom, and fringe political movement Advance NZ to print and distribute 60,000 copies of a 48-page magazine "The Real News", accused of promoting Covid-19 falsehoods and conspiracy theories. This was incorrect. Voices For Freedom was not involved in raising funds for the publication. However, a statement from Advance NZ stated that copies of "The Real News" was distributed by volunteers from Advance NZ and Voices For Freedom. Voices For Freedom co-founder Claire Deeks was also third on the political party's list.