Max Shierlaw posted he was on his way to attending a Voices For Freedom rally.
A candidate for the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust, which administers $40 million for the local community, has a history of attending Voices For Freedom rallies and making controversial online posts, including calling police “bare faced liars” and calling Māori Party MPs a “bunch of lazy racists”.
Max Shierlaw, a Lower Hutt accountant and a former Hutt City councillor who lost his seat in 2016, is running for one of two seats on the trust. Established in 1993, after the energy reforms of the 1990s, it promotes energy conservation and opportunities for sport, recreation and youth, with trustees elected every three years.
Shierlaw previously courted controversy when he was involved in the election campaign for National candidate Chris Bishop in 2014 and espoused anti-Muslim views.
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He has continued to post similarly controversial statements and photos online. Recent posts include a meme suggesting people who have been vaccinated are lab rats and support for having a camera in every school class. “Any parent should be able to access the footage whenever they want to find out exactly what teachers are doing and saying to their kids.”
Last May Shierlaw also called Māori Party MPs a “bunch of lazy racists” on Facebook.
He has also been associated with Voices for Freedom, which has been spreading mis- and dis-information in New Zealand about Covid-19 and vaccines. VFF has asked its 100,000 members to compete in this year’s local body elections to “sway the result” and make the country “ungovernable”.
He posted a selfie on his way to attend a VFF rally in central Wellington last November.
Shierlaw acknowledged attending the occupation and said he was only doing what other New Zealanders like Winston Peters did. He denies being an anti-vaxxer and said he is not affiliated to VFF, but attended their rallies.
“My position on vaccinations are the same as with fluoride. People should be free to decide for themselves, without Government coercion,” he wrote in an email.
Shierlaw has also criticised the use of masks as a means of infection control during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Masks are not a health (issue) they are merely a Government tool to promote fear and to exercise control,” he wrote on Facebook.
He also posted a meme: “If you pretend I’m wearing a mask. I’ll pretend yours works.”
The Ministry of Health website recommends wearing masks to stop the spread of Covid.
Shierlaw took part in the occupation of Parliament grounds in February, posting a photo on Facebook claiming tangata whenua told “the occupiers that they have their back” and Māori fully supported their cause.
Māori leaders consistently condemned the occupation, including after a group of protestors attacked the Pipitea Marae.
Māori opposition to the occupation was widely publicised and local tangata whenua made it clear the protestors were not welcome.
Shierlaw spent his time at the occupation praying, and claimed the police smashed their temporary church.
“The Temple of Worship at Parliament destroyed by the police goons,” he said on Facebook. He also posted on Facebook that he had “spent some time praying in front of the Hare Krishna tent for their demonic forces to be driven out.”
Asked this weekabout his posts, Shierlaw said he “absolutely” stood by his posts criticising police, noting there had been 1900 complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Authority.
Protesters and police clash early on day 23 of the Parliament occupation. (Video first published March 2022).
He said he had seen online posts showing police violence, adding that he believes the police should be held accountable. “Police Commissioner (Andrew) Coster, who claims to be a Christian, will have to answer to God about this.”
The IPCA said in March it would conduct a “year-long” investigation into the 23-day occupation of Parliament.