Six people have turned out to hold placards for Porirua mayoral candidate Nicole Foss, after the local branch of Voices for Freedom asked its members to attend four pop-up campaign events.
The Porirua branch of anti-mandate organisation Voices for Freedom (VFF) is co-ordinating its supporters to campaign for local mayoral candidate Nicole Foss, despite the group saying it does not endorse any local body election candidates.
An email sent to VFF Porirua’s mailing list on September 28 asked its members to attend four pop-up events this week to hold up Foss’ candidate signs next to main roads.
On one of the four days, six people turned up at the advertised location and time which they waved placards bearing Foss’ likeness, as well as unfurling a banner saying “Foss for Mayor” on top of a nearby bridge.
Two of the six attendees said they were not members for Voices for Freedom and were not aware of the email.
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Foss, a systems analyst who is also running to become one of the four councillors at the Pāuatahanui ward, appeared on five videos on the VFF website in June and July – alongside one of the group’s co-founder Alia Bland – where she made references to conspiracy theories like the New World Order.
On its website, Voices for Freedom said it does not endorse any candidates but rather provides “a platform to help candidates share their position on a range of issues”.
But earlier in August, Stuff Circuit reported that the group, which played a leading role at the 23-day occupation of Parliament grounds, has asked its 100,000 members to compete in this year’s local body elections to “sway the result” and make the country “ungovernable”.
Candidates were also told to hide their affiliations with the movement and run as independents instead.
VFF also sent out a survey to all candidates asking about their opinions on issues including hate speech laws, co-governance and amalgamation.
Foss has refused to be interviewed since the beginning of her mayoralty bid, accusing Stuff of a smear campaign.
Asked about her VFF affliations at a debate hosted by the Porirua Chamber of Commerce last month, Foss said she was a “true independent” and insisted the organisation had nothing to do with her campaign.
“Voices for Freedom does not do anything to support their candidates,” she said. “Nobody imposes an agenda on me at all – I’m not a VFF candidate. I don’t work for anyone else.”
Other candidates running to be Porirua’s mayor include Anita Baker, Ura Wilson-Pokoati and Tapu Elia.
Josh Trlin, Tracy Johnson, Nathan Waddle, David Christensen, Andrea Coulston, Brent Ching and Ross Leggett are the other candidates for the Pāuatahanui ward.
Voting closes at noon on Saturday, October 8.