Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, speaking to media in Whanganui this afternoon, said she wasn't surprised at the level of hostility towards her and she wasn't taking it personally.
Ardern today cancelled a 12.45pm press conference from Whanganui after about 250 protesters gathered outside the vaccination centre she was planning to visit, blocking the entrance, and the stand-up was subsequently rescheduled elsewhere.
Ardern said the Government was at the stage of the vaccine rollout where they were trying to reach communities that held strong views.
Cancelling the planned visit to the Whanganui vaccination clinic this morning after anti-vaccination protesters gathered was "pragmatic".
She said she was in the area to encourage people to get vaccinated and it became counterproductive if people behaved in a way that stopped people's access.
"A decision was made that it wasn't practical if the idea was to get people vaccinated, to have an environment where people were blocked from doing so."
When asked about yesterday's protest in Northland, she said she wouldn't define it as a formal protest.
There were no plans to stop visiting communities and she would "continue on".
She said the purpose of the visits was to speak with providers on the ground to thank them and find out what they could to do support their work, as well as gaining an understanding about what helped those people now getting vaccinated change their minds.
Whanganui has the third-lowest vaccination rate of the DHBs – 81 per cent of its eligible population have had one dose and 61 per cent have had two doses.
Ardern is in Whanganui to warn lower-vaccinated regions that the Government will not be able to contain Delta in Auckland indefinitely so they should get vaccinated before it spreads more widely.
Whanganui MP Steph Lewis and Te Tai Hauauru MP Adrian Rurawhe earlier this afternoon turned up at the clinic, but swiftly left as the original group of protesters grew. Whanganui-based National List MP Harete Hipango also showed up, but left after about 10 minutes.
The protesters confronted media, accusing journalists of being paid off by the Government.
There was a significant police presence at the original protest, which grew after protesters began moving onto the road.
Hipkins was asked at the 1pm update about Ardern's press conference being relocated.
"Her presence combined with the presence of anti-vax protesters was actually preventing people from coming forward and getting vaccinated."
Is momentum gaining within the anti-vax movement, he was asked.
Hipkins said people bused themselves in.
"There's a very small group" that is active around the country, he said.
The Prime Minister has now also abandoned a planned visit to a Hunterville vaccination clinic because of protest activity. A spokesman said she has reorganised her afternoon to meet privately with locals involved in the vaccination effort instead.
"The PM does not want to do anything that gets in the way of those people choosing to get vaccinating from doing so," a spokesman said.