A Cambridge school teacher who lost her job when she refused to get a Covid-19 vaccination is in Wellington as part of the Parliament protest action.
Rachel Eriksen, who taught at Newstead School but left when the Government brought in mandatory vaccinations last year for certain roles, arrived in Wellington on February 11 with her partner and their sons.
Speaking to The News last weekend she said the protest action was “really powerful and heart-warming.”
It was like a real community with everybody pitching in to help each other. “The people down here are just everyday Kiwis; they’re all ages from 85 years to young babies.”
Among the protesters were other teachers, nurses, police and army personnel plus “hundreds” of others from Cambridge, she said.
Eriksen disputed information published in the media about the protest including claims there were faeces on the ground, rubbish, graffiti and violence.
“People are constantly walking around picking up rubbish, we have clean and tidy portaloos everywhere.
“Everyone is peaceful, and no alcohol is allowed on the grounds, just happy, smiley, free people fighting for you all.”
Her comments came ahead of an escalation of confrontations involving a fringe element of the protest group.
Leaving teaching was the hardest thing she had to do.
“It’s torn me apart. We have a shortage of teachers and they’re sacking them. It’s all very, very sad.”
Eriksen, who has started a children’s library at her Hautapu home for those unable to go to Waipā District Council’s Cambridge library, said her sons had the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination when they were young because the vaccination was extensively tested and approved.
She said the Covid-19 vaccination had not been tested and approved and she had no intention of getting the Covid vaccination until authorities published the safety data.
The Covid strain going around “is just a sniffle,” she said.
“The vaccine is playing with our immune systems. Open it up, let it go.
“I do believe the (Covid) vaccination is for the vulnerable and the elderly but it’s wrong to be vaccinating perfectly healthy people.”
Eriksen said she was like most New Zealanders two years ago when the pandemic started.
“We were all supportive because we went into panic mode.”
But the Government-imposed mandates introduced last year resulted in an increased mistrust of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government, conflict, social unrest and pitted friends and families against each other, she said.
It led to Eriksen losing her job.
“She (Jacinda Ardern) has divided our country. People should be questioning the science and answering (more) questions,” said Eriksen.
It was odd to see so many businesses close their doors in central Wellington.
“If they opened, they would be doing a roaring trade. The sushi owner here told us they’d never been so busy.”
Asked how long she would stay at Parliament, Eriksen said: “I’m really prepared to stay to the end.