Elizabeth Jane Cooney, commonly known as Liz Gunn (born 1959 or 1960), is the leader of the NZ Loyal Party,[1] and is an anti-vaccination activist, conspiracy theorist, and a former television presenter from New Zealand.[2][3][4][5]

Law and broadcasting career

Gunn was a litigation lawyer before beginning her TV career on the TVNZ show Sunday in 1992.[6] From 1997 she was the first Breakfast newsreader, becoming one of the show's co-hosts (alongside Mike Hosking) in 2001. She unexpectedly quit that role on-air during the year's last episode. By then she had also begun broadcasting on Radio New Zealand.[7] Other television roles included reporting for Holmes and newsreading on 1 News. Gunn moved to Australia after her TV presenting days ended in 2002, returning to New Zealand a decade later.[8] She rejoined RNZ until 2016.[9]

In 2017 she became a director and one-third shareholder of a new company, Lifeforce Water Limited.[10]

Anti-vaccination activism

During the 2020s she became a leader in the anti-vaccination movement in New Zealand, and championed conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine causing harm.[11][12][13] When an earthquake struck the North Island in October 2021, Gunn called it Mother Nature's response to vaccination targets (which she described as "jab rape") and other covid-related policies implemented by the "tyrannical" Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.[14]

She was a leader and spokesperson in the 2022 protests occupying the New Zealand parliament grounds.[15]

In December 2022 she was the spokesperson for parents who refused to allow their child to have a blood transfusion using blood donations from vaccinated people.[16][17]

Auckland Airport assault case

In February 2023 Gunn was arrested at Auckland Airport.[4] Along with cameraman Jonathan Clark, she was there to film the arrival of an unvaccinated family arriving from Tokelau. They scuffled with a security guard and were both arrested.[18] She appeared in court the next month, charged with assault, trespass, and resisting arrest. Her plea was not guilty, and she was released on bail.[5][19]

Gunn missed her next court date in June, citing illness, but returned in October.[20] She requested more CCTV footage from the time of the alleged assault and is next expected to appear in January 2024.[21]

New Zealand Loyal

In June 2023 Gunn announced a new political party, New Zealand Loyal. In the launch video she discussed conspiracies involving fluoridation, 1080, Bill Gates, "gender programming", the World Economic Forum, media, the 15-minute city urban planning concept, the "brown mafia", and odd weather patterns. She requested donations of up to $1,000,000 and stated an ambition to have 500 people (the minimum required to register a party) join within a week.[22]

Gunn said at the time that it is a "compliment" to be called a conspiracy theorist, but by the end of the election campaign she was tired of that label.[21]

New Zealand Loyal was registered two months after Gunn's initial announcement. Its official logo includes the slogan, "Loyal to You, Not to Them".[23] Gunn said that the slogan refers to "the globalists".[24]

2023 general election

During the 2023 New Zealand general election, NZ Loyal had intended to run a 15-person list in the election but failed to register most of those individuals in time. Consequently NZ Loyal's official party list contained Gunn, Peter Drew and Phillip George Engel. Engel then left the party so the list effectively contained only two candidates.[25][26] Had NZ Loyal passed the 5% vote threshold those two would have become MPs with the rest of the party's seats staying vacant.

Gunn initially took responsibility for the administrative debacle, putting it down to "human error" within the party. Some days later she instead blamed "contradictory advice" from the Electoral Commission, which the party suspected may have been deliberate sabotage. Chief electoral officer Karl Le Quesne said that the Commission worked closely with all parties before and during the nomination period, that NZ Loyal submitted a list with three candidates within time, and that they had asked to add more people after the 14 September deadline.[27] This was down to the party misunderstanding the difference between its "bulk information schedule" (which applies to constituency candidates and could be amended until noon on 15 September) and its actual party list (which could not).[28]

Short of list candidates, Gunn changed her campaign strategy and began calling a vote for NZ Loyal a "protest vote" that will reduce the number of MPs in parliament.[29]

The issue of the NZ Loyal list went to the High Court in Wellington on 6 October. The party's lawyer argued that the court could simply declare that the list had been submitted before the deadline. The judge called this a "novel and creative" idea and said that, "If you leave it to the last minute and something goes wrong, the responsibility falls squarely on the party."[28] The Electoral Commission argued that deadlines and time frames should be strictly observed. No changes were allowed to the party list.[30]

New Zealand Loyal stood candidates in 33 electorates. Liz Gunn was not one of them.[31]

During the 2023 election, NZ Loyal received 1.20% of the party vote (34,456 votes), and won no electorates, so did not enter parliament.[32] Gunn had claimed during the campaign that her NZ Loyal party would win 2 million votes. In response to the preliminary results, Gunn stated that New Zealand was being ruled by a "criminal cabal and at the very least, utter bullies."[33]

References

  1. ^ Sherwood, Sam (1 July 2023). "Liz Gunn launches new political party and asks for $1m in donations". New Zealand Herald.
  2. ^ "Liz Gunn | NZ On Screen". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  3. ^ "TVNZ's Breakfast hosts – a complete history". NZ Herald. 19 April 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Liz Gunn arrested at Auckland Airport: Hilary Barry 'concerned' for former TVNZ presenter's descent into 'conspiracy realm'". New Zealand Herald. 27 February 2023. Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  5. ^ a b Owen, Catrin (23 March 2023). "Conspiracy theorist Liz Gunn pleads not guilty, claims she was assault victim". Stuff. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Screengraphy: Liz Gunn". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  7. ^ Cleave, Louisa (22 December 2001). "TVNZ chiefs stunned as Gunn quits show on air". NZ Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  8. ^ "Profile: Liz Gunn – Presenter". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Liz Gunn arrest: Conspiracy theorist breaks silence on Auckland Airport arrest". New Zealand Herald. 1 March 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  10. ^ "HORITY LIFEFORCE WATER LIMITED (6267852) Registered". New Zealand Companies Office. Retrieved 24 March 2023.
  11. ^ Hewett, William (19 January 2022). "COVID-19: Liz Gunn goes off in furious rant after being asked for evidence of children collapsing at North Shore vaccination centre". Newshub. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  12. ^ Venuto, Damien (19 January 2022). "The sad spiral of Liz Gunn down the Covid conspiracy rabbit hole". NZ Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  13. ^ Reeve, Dylan (25 January 2022). "No, five kids didn't collapse at a vaccination site. So who said they did?". The Spinoff. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  14. ^ "Former NZ television presenter Liz Gunn claims earthquake was Mother Nature's response to Jacinda Ardern's Covid-19 announcement". New Zealand Herald. 23 March 2023. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Liz Gunn coughs through Counterspin appearance days after Wellington anti-mandate protest ends". Newshub. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  16. ^ Sharma, Akula (8 December 2022). "'Urgent surgery': Baby's parents abandon legal fight in vaccine-blood case". NZ Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  17. ^ Mitchell, Charlie (10 December 2022). "Liz Gunn and the 'purebloods': How the baby blood donor story unfolded". Stuff. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  18. ^ "Conspiracy theorist and former TV presenter Liz Gunn arrested at Auckland Airport". New Zealand Herald. 26 February 2023. Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  19. ^ Sowman-Lund, Stewart (23 March 2023). "Broadcaster turned conspiracy theorist Liz Gunn appears in court". The Spinoff. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  20. ^ "Former broadcaster turned anti-vax campaigner Liz Gunn fails to appear in court, citing illness". The New Zealand Herald. 7 June 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  21. ^ a b Lyth, Jaime (19 October 2023). "Liz Gunn Auckland Airport scuffle: Fresh appeal for security footage, 2 million votes comment 'was a joke'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  22. ^ Manhire, Toby (30 June 2023). "Fresh bids and bad blood in battle for the fringe right vote". The Spinoff. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Register of political parties". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  24. ^ Manhire, Toby (28 August 2023). "Liz Gunn conspiracy party formally registered, targets 'deep state creatures'". The Spinoff. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  25. ^ "2023 General Election: Parties". vote.nz. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  26. ^ FreeNZ Media (21 September 2023). "MMP And Elections – Protest Party Vote". Rumble. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  27. ^ Kelly, Rachael (26 September 2023). "Liz Gunn's NZ Loyal to contest election with two on its party list". Stuff. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  28. ^ a b Wu, Fiona (20 October 2023). "Liz Gunn-backed fringe party takes Electoral Commission to court over missed deadline". The Law Association. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  29. ^ Mitchell, Charlie (19 September 2023). "Liz Gunn's party fails to register nearly all candidates". Waikato Times. Stuff. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  30. ^ "Liz Gunn's NZ Loyal takes Electoral Commission to court over missed deadline". Stuff. 6 October 2023. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  31. ^ "New Zealand Loyal". Policy.nz. The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 5 September 2023.
  32. ^ "2023 General Election - Official Result". Electoral Commission. 3 November 2023. Archived from the original on 4 November 2023. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  33. ^ "Liz Gunn cries, Brian Tamaki rages at 'gutless Kiwis' after losses". Newshub. 15 October 2023. Archived from the original on 19 October 2023. Retrieved 25 October 2023.

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