Coronavirus: Kiwis outside of Auckland mocked, laughed at for wearing face masks |

Published by STUFF.CO.NZ

Summary generated on August 15, 2020

    Other Kiwis have been called "Stupid" or "Loony" for wearing a mask, falling out of step with official advice while Auckland is at alert level 3, and the rest of the country is in alert level 2.

    Aucklanders have been strongly encouraged to wear a mask or face covering when out and about, while the rest of the country is encouraged to consider wearing a mask when they cannot maintain social distancing, such as on public transport.

    Far North woman Sonya Ihimaera said she felt like crying when an older man mocked and laughed at her for wearing a face mask in Kerikeri on Wednesday.

    Ihimaera and her husband were travelling home from Auckland, after finding out they could not attend a relative's tangi due to the suddenly imposed alert level 3 restrictions.

    As they had been shopping in South Auckland where the initial coronavirus cases were detected, Ihimaera decided to use a mask when using the Kerikeri public toilets to protect those around her.

    "I'm 65, and a man who is older than me stepped towards me and laughed in my face. I said to him, 'this isn't funny' and he turned around and just laughed harder, and made signs to me like I had a screw loose or was a crazy person," she said.

    "His actions were stamping on somebody's mana... I felt sad, humiliated and eventually angry."

    After posting about her experience on social media, Ihimaera was further disappointed to find out her experience was not isolated, with several other people also being mocked at for wearing a mask in Kerikeri.

    One woman wore a mask because she was on chemotherapy, and was disgusted to be mocked and laughed at.

    Kerikeri resident Diane Hay said a close friend, who has lung problems and had a cough, was teased by at least two people for wearing a face mask at one of the town's supermarkets on Thursday.

    "One said, 'oh no the loonies are out again' and another, 'oh here goes stupid'," Hay recalled.

    Another friend in Wellington was also laughed at when wearing a face mask, she said.

    Hay runs family support group, Helping Understand Grief of Suicide, and said such comments could push people over the edge or make them fearful of going out.

    "This kind of attitude towards people drives them inside and, quite frankly, we don't need this when there is so much stress around at the moment."

    She urged people to be kind, and to consider the reasons why people might be wearing a mask.

    "If only people could keep their comments to themselves. If they want to get Covid, it's up to them, but we don't."

    Ihimaera also urged people to be more considerate and to realise people might be wearing a mask to help protect others.

    "I think mocking and jeering should be beneath us [Kiwis] but it's not."

    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said wearing a face mask could help stop people spreading the virus to their neighbourhood or friends.

    Health Minister Chris Hipkins also urged Kiwis to wear a face mask, but said on Wednesday the Government was still working on legal issues around making them compulsory.