By Diane McCarthy, Local Democracy Reporter
Three local government candidates in Whakatāne district have the support of anti-vaccination mandate organisation Voices for Freedom.
Mayoral and Rangitaiki general ward candidate Jacquelyn Elkington, Te Urewera general ward candidate Alison Silcock, and Whakatāne-Ōhope Community Board candidate Emmeline Taylor are all mentioned in a newsletter distributed to Voices for Freedom's Whakatāne email list in late August.
The email said the three candidates had attended a Voices for Freedom meeting at Whakatāne's Knox Church on 11 August.
The email discussed ways these candidates could be supported, such as through signs and leaflets, financially and morally. It suggested going to their public appearances and asking supporting questions and grilling their competitors "about their stand with all the Covid measures "and anything else that does not make much sense these days.
Silcock, who has always been outspoken at meetings of Whakatāne District Council about her belief that the Pfizer vaccine is ineffective against Covid-19, said she was "more than happy" that Voices for Freedom were supporting her. She was happy to support freedom of choice.
The Ministry of Health's website states the vaccine has undergone international clinical trials "to help demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the vaccine" and that it was continually closely monitored for effectiveness and safety.
Voices for Freedom, one of the groups behind the month-long occupation of parliament grounds in February and March, had encouraged "concerned New Zealanders who understand the issues at stake" to stand as independents in this year's local body elections.
Its website stated the elections were a "critical opportunity … to make an impact on the extent to which the United Nations Agenda is making at a local level".
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, is a plan to free the world from poverty, realise the human rights of all, and achieve gender equality.
Voices for Freedom provides an information pack for candidates it supports and advice on running a campaign.
Elkington said the candidate packs had lots of "really useful information" in them.
Taylor was not able to be contacted.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air