NZ First leader and former deputy prime minister Winston Peters has expressed support for the Parliament anti-vaccine mandate protesters, while noting that he himself is triple vaccinated.
He told the Herald he supported the right to protest, and that he did not support vaccine mandates.
Peters has tweeted expressing support for protesters right to protest, and against the decision of the police to begin removing protesters.
Protesters are aware of Peters' tweets. Counterspin, a pro-protest media platform read the Tweets on their broadcast and asked Peters whether he would appear on their channel.
Peters said he believes the Government is showing a double standard compared with other protests like the Ihumātao occupation, which ended with a brokered solution and a grant to buy the contested land.
"We have people occupying private land at Ihumātao and the Government against our wishes after the election embraced them," Peters said.
"Then you've got a Speaker making statements even banning media from talking to them [the protesters], when he has gone out publicly extolling the virtues of protests he has been in even when they were far, far, more violent," he said.
He noted that many MPs and ministers had themselves been part of protests. Speaker Trevor Mallard was arrested during protests over the 1981 Springbok Tour.
Peters said he is vaccinated - "triple vaccinated - even against the media".
But added he did not support vaccination mandates, saying he questioned their retention with New Zealand's relatively high vaccination rates.
It's "not the issue of vaccinations but the mandates", Peters said.
"Those protesters are right in this context," he said.
Peters said he did not support the violence directed towards his former Cabinet colleagues.
"That's a ridiculous question, I don't support violence," Peters said.