1. The Freedom & Rights Coalition protests in New Zealand are being led by a spinoff from self-appointed Apostle Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church. But the wider self-described ‘freedom movement’ comprises a diverse range of groups and individuals. Here are some of the key players👇
2.1 Sue Grey: a lawyer (currently under investigation by the Law Society) and co-leader of The Outdoors Party (0.1% of the vote in 2020). Grey has an avid support base which she constantly bombards with covid & vaccine related misinformation.
2.2 Grey takes on high profile court cases against the government to stop the vaccine rollout. She hasn’t won one yet, but is presumably not doing it for free.
She's an associate of Kyle Chapman, a white-supremacist notorious for firebombing a marae
3.1 Voices for Freedom: formed by Claire Deeks from the wreckage of a now defunct Advance NZ party (1% of the vote in 2020). These self described “yoga mums” claim to want “medical freedom" but strive to deny people the ability to make informed choices
3.2 Voices for Freedom spreads covid denial, anti-vaccine & anti-mask misinformation through social media, door to door leaflet drops, speaking tours & a network of local groups. It also promotes New World Order conspiracy theories to its followers
4.1 Covid Plan-B: a group of "academics & passionate people” who opposed NZ's zero covid strategy, Plan B adds apparent legitimacy to the demands of ‘freedom’ and antivax groups. But they also promote conspiracy theorists & misinformation peddlers
4.2 Disgraced epidemiologist Simon Thornley is a key Plan B spokesperson. He advocates for unproven covid cures, spreads misinformation about the Pfizer vaccine and tries to gag his critics with legal threats while moaning about 'being silenced'.
5.1 NZDSOS:‘New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out With Science’ represents <0.2% of NZ doctors, several of whom are being investigated by the NZ Medical Council for misconduct. Its main role is to legitimise antivax ideas in the ‘freedom movement’ (aka 'doctors agree with us')
5.2 NZDSOS spreads misinformation about the Pfizer vaccine (including a bogus register of 'vaccine deaths') & advocates for unproven covid cures. Unsurprisingly "alternative health practitioners" play a prominent role & Plan B's Simon Thornley is a member. stuff.co.nz/national/healt…
6.1 Sovereign Citizens: Inspired by UK/US movements Sov Cits believe national laws are illegitimate & use various means to declare themselves ‘sovereign’ (the laws don't apply to them). In NZ this has been mixed with legitimate ideas of tino rangatiratanga
6.2 Groups in the 'freedom movement' try to use Sov Cit tactics to avoid covid restrictions & vax mandates. But Sov Cits can also be insurrectionist. Internationally they've been linked to kidnaps, murders, right-wing extremism & attacks on govt officials
7.1 QAnon: Self-proclaimed Q adherents are hard to find, but scratch the surface & many activists hold Qanon aligned beliefs. It's a big-tent conspiracy that boils down to "an elite cabal of (left-leaning) paedophiles murder children & drink their blood”
7.2 Q-aligned people have taken leadership positions in several ‘freedom movement’ initiatives including the ‘Hikoi of Truth’ and Counterspin Media

Many who follow QAnon don't know about or fully understand its ties to anti-Semitism, racism & transphobia
8.1 Counterspin Media: Hosted on far-right, American agitator Steve Bannon's network, this conspiracy theory peddling "media company" has a host of shady characters, including Shane Chafin, who was visited by police after the March 15 terrorist attack.
9.1 Evangelical Christians: Several churches across New Zealand have been preaching anti-vax & conspiracist talking points from the pulpit. Brian Tamaki & Billy te Kahika get noticed, but this group is largely pakeha & middle class
9.2 Meanwhile, prominent New Conservative figures Ashley Baker & his daughter Chantelle have also been busy promoting anti-vax & covid misinformation on social media. While Elliot Ikilei targets Pasifika communities through his Talanoa Sa'o TV programme.
10.1 AAG (Ag Action Gatherings): another spinoff from Advance NZ, AAG wants you to think it's about regulations in the agricultural industry, but it also promotes NWO, antivax and Sov Cit conspiracy theories. Find out how it came about from @byronclarke
11.1 Groundswell: has recently distanced itself from "off message" groups, but was previously happy to accept their support. It’s leadership also appeared on Counterspin Media & was involved in Tamaki’s Freedom & Rights Coalition protest at Auckland domain
12.1 The far right: agitators such as Carol Sakey, Lee Williams, Kyle Chapman and Action Zealandia have been active in the 'freedom' movement. They recognise that the disenfranchised are easy to radicalise & seek to pull them towards reactionary politics.
13.1 Conspirituality: While many are acting responsibly, some in the spiritual & festival scenes have fallen down the rabbit-hole and are now major sources of covid/vaccine related misinformation & conspiracy theories.
14.1 Anti-vax: some try to disguise their true intentions with slogans like 'medical freedom', but many 'freedom movement' activists are anti-vaccine, a sentiment which has been around since the first inoculation & given a boost in the 1990s theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
14.2 All the groups in this list (except Groundswell which is officially neutral) follow the anti-vax playbook, which is to spread doubt about:
1. The threat posed by Covid
2. The safety of vaccines
3. Whether we can trust experts
Many people attending 'freedom' events have real concerns but don't know where to turn for good information. We need to be compassionate & maintain relationships, provide good information and address the social issues which make people vulnerable. rnz.co.nz/national/progr…
In the coming days, we'll be digging into each of the 'freedom movement' groups & leaders and adding more. We'll also be providing sound advice from experts. Stay tuned.
Apologies, we meant to say Leighton Baker not 'Ashley'.

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