Pandemic rules designed to save Kiwi lives which ban surfing, swimming and hunting during the lockdown have been labelled "cruel and unreasonable" by a fringe political party.
The Ministry of Health issued a Health Notice yesterday which clarified that recreation and exercise on alert level four lockdown should not include swimming, water-based activities, hunting, tramping, or other activities that could expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services.
New Zealanders had previously been advised not to take part in these activities during the Covid-19 lockdown but the ban was made official in fresh laws released by the ministry.
NZ Outdoors Party co-leader Alan Simmons today labelled the rules "cruel and unreasonable" and said they undermined trust in the government.
His comments have been called "inappropriate" by the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, which has advised its members to obey the rules and stay away from potential danger.
"I cannot keep up with the calls and messages from New Zealanders who are extremely stressed, distressed and frustrated by dramatic changes imposed on our Kiwi lifestyle," said Simmons.
"Many are in tears and shell-shocked. People use fishing, walking in the hills, boating and other outdoors activities to relax and let off steam.
"With so much uncertainty about health, jobs and our future, it is cruel and unreasonable to ban favourite activities and coop people up inside their homes. We have already received information about domestic violence, alcohol abuse and a suicide."
He pointed to neighbours "dobbing in" people who were breaking the rules, saying it was "not the New Zealand way".
"We are starting to understand how the Nazi Party was so successful implementing their agenda.
"The government must pull back urgently and relax restrictions that are not necessary or which are disproportionate to any threat." Alan added.
Co-leader Sue Grey said the government's action was "increasingly draconian".
"Let's break out of the fear and cotton wool mentality where we are locked inside buildings like frightened mice, and let's rediscover our Kiwi spirit," she said.
"Life is never going to be no risk."
NZ Deerstalkers Association president Trevor Chappell said the comments were "inappropriate at this time".
He said his group was "opposed" to the NZ Outdoor Party's view, and that they had informed their members they should be following the government's rules on staying home.
"If everybody plays their part and stays home we should be able to get through this Covid-19 outbreak and our members will be able to get out hunting again."
Chappell said nobody wanted to put emergency service workers at risk by putting themselves in potential danger.
Police have already started handing out tickets for people ignoring the rules.
This morning police - who have been monitoring surf cameras to detect rule-breakers - turned up at Piha Beach, where about six people were in the water.
"They just went straight down to the beach and called the surfers in," said a Herald photographer at the scene.
"Then they gave them tickets. Another guy was just drying down in the carpark and he got a ticket too."
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said the current position and reasons for level four are outlined on the government's Covid-19 website.