'We've got someone who was educated in America': New Zealand's Deputy PM brutally ridicules Covid-19 denier then tells him - 'Sorry sunshine, wrong place'
A New Zealand politician ridiculed a man for suggesting that the coronavirus does not exist - comparing it to saying 'the Earth is flat'.
Deputy prime minister Winston Peters poured scorn on the audience member at a campaign event ahead of Saturday's general election, joking that he had 'obviously got an education in America' because of his accent.
The man, who was holding a sheet of notes, drew sceptical looks from the audience as he asked: 'Where's your evidence that there is a virus that causes the disease?'.
Peters, the leader of the nationalist New Zealand First party and a coalition partner of PM Jacinda Ardern, told the man to 'sit down' and added: 'Sorry sunshine, wrong place'.
The man had already drawn Peters' ire with a rambling question in which he listed his own educational qualifications.
Peters cut him off, saying: 'Sir, if you're that bright, with all those degrees, you'll know what a question is. Start asking it.'
When the man declared he had three questions, Peters restricted him to one and refused to let him 'make a speech first'.
The man finally got his question out, asking for 'evidence' of the virus's existence, but the deputy PM shut him down again.
'We have got someone who obviously got an education in America,' Peters said to laughs from the audience.
'220,000 people have died in the United States, there are eight million cases today, we've got 79,000 cases probably today in India, and here's somebody who gets up and says the Earth is flat. Sorry sunshine, wrong place.'
New Zealand has been one of the world's most notable success stories in the Covid-19 crisis, all but crushing the virus through strict border control measures.
The country currently has no active cases in the community after beating back a new cluster in Auckland, meaning that lockdown measures have all but vanished.
Only 1,874 people have ever been infected in New Zealand and just 25 have died, fewer than many countries are suffering on a daily basis.
While the election was postponed by a month following the Auckland flare-up, polls show Ardern's Labour party on course to win a second term.
Ardern's re-election was seen as far from assured before the pandemic, but her party's ratings have surged as New Zealand's success against the virus became clear.
Ardern, 40, is currently in a coalition with Peters' New Zealand First party as well as the Greens.
Peters, a colourful figure who is also New Zealand's foreign minister, has led New Zealand First since its foundation in 1993.
The 75-year-old has lobbied for tighter controls on immigration and foreign investment, as well as lower taxes and more welfare spending for the elderly.
After forming a coalition with Labour in 2017, Peters spent a few weeks as acting PM the following year while Ardern was on maternity leave.
However, a recent poll by Colmar Brunton showed New Zealand first on just two per cent of the vote, down from the 7.2 per cent they managed in 2017.
The same poll showed Ardern on course for 47 per cent on the vote, with a projection showing Labour on 60 seats out of 120 - on the brink of an overall majority.