An Auckland Council candidate claims he and Don Brash were threatened by a sword-wielding man while he was being interviewed.

The candidate, David Rankin, sent a press release to media this morning saying TVNZ reporters and a cameraman "fled", leaving him and the former National and ACT party leader to fend for themselves.

But now, the network's head of news has denied there were any threats made against the group or that the team fled.

What has been confirmed is TVNZ staff were with Ngapuhi leader Rankin, who is standing in the Waitakere Ward, and Brash for his launch on Great North Rd in Glendene yesterday.


Rankin was being interviewed by TVNZ next to his billboard when a man drove up to the group with a boy aged about 8 to 10 sitting in the car.

This is where the two versions of events differ.

Brash says: "When it was clear David wasn't interested in talking to him, the man got out of his car with a large sword and came over and yelled incoherently at David.

"He seemed to be either mentally disturbed or on drugs. I couldn't tell what he was saying but he was obviously totally out of it."

He said the boy stood silently while the "very overweight" Maori man swung the sword around and continued to talk incoherently.

"David tried to calm the man down. David is fluent in Te Reo, but actually I'm not sure if David was speaking Te Reo or English to him; the whole thing is a bit of a blur.

"We were obviously concerned with the boy's welfare. There was no question the man shouldn't have been driving."

The sword was at least a metre long, he said. Brash was unsure if it was made of real steel.

Rankin said his main concern was for the safety of the young boy.

"He was ranting hysterically and threatening us with his sword... It was a highly dangerous situation, especially for that poor boy."

"Our team were surprised at the cowardly behaviour of the reporters. We were at risk of being seriously assaulted, or worse, and this man's child was in extreme danger, but the reporters just fled the scene."

Rankin said one of his supporters called police. He also said he would be approaching TVNZ management today asking for a full investigation.

TVNZ's head of news and current affairs John Gillespie said he was "surprised" by that version of events.

He said the man did not appear violent, was not waving the sword and his reporting team were the last to leave.

"Our team said the man was not waving the sword about nor did he appear to have any violent intent. The sword was pointed towards the ground.

"The boy with the man was smiling and appeared happy. Our cameraman had finished filming by this point and was packing up his gear.

"Our team said Mr Rankin approached the man, shook hands with him and spoke to him. Our team were by now in their car ready to leave. Dr Brash had left. Mr Rankin got into his car and as he was driving off, rolled down his window and spoke with the team.

"Our team were the last to leave."

He said his team never felt in danger or were concerned about the safety of anyone else.

"They saw no necessity at the time to call police.

"Mr Rankin made no contact with TVNZ yesterday afternoon. His press release this morning was the first we knew of his concerns."

Rankin sent out a further press release this afternoon, saying it was "unbelievable" the TVNZ team didn't think it was necessary to call police.

"If it was not dangerous, can Mr Gillespie explain why the police thought otherwise and pursued the man?"

Waitakere Police area commander Inspector Scott Webb said police received a call at 1:30pm yesterday about a man who was yelling and waving a sword on Awaroa Rd.

The 42-year-old man had driven off by the time police arrived, however a police unit later sighted the car on Great North Road in Kelston.

The man failed to stop for police so a low-speed pursuit ensued.

Police managed to get alongside the man, who still had the child with him, and officers pleaded with him to stop.

The man turned into Victor Street, in Avondale, and police managed to block the vehicle in.

The man was detained for treatment under the care of health authorities. The child was unharmed.

Police have been in contact with Government agencies to ensure the ongoing care and welfare of the child.

It's not the first time Brash has had an odd encounter.

In 2004 when Brash was leader of the National Party, he was showered with mud and hit in the face with a clod thrown by protesters at Waitangi Day celebrations.

Brash was preparing to walk on to the Te Tii Waitangi marae when the incident occurred.