It all started with a selfie, and now the prime minister has been accused of flouting the rules.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern took a picture this week with a crowd of Massey University students while on the campaign trail in the Manawatū.
It’s that selfie that has lead to the PM being accused of “breaking” the social distancing rules she’s asked New Zealanders to abide by.
ACT leader David Seymour criticised Ardern on Saturday, and said New Zealanders would be asking whether she was part of the team of five million after she “clearly flouted the rules she has asked us to live by”.
“Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is breaking them. Small business owners will be incredibly angry.”
The country is currently under level 2 restrictions, with Auckland at level 2.5. Although gatherings are restricted to just 10 people in Auckland, excluding funerals, for the rest of the country it’s capped at 100.
At level 2, Kiwis are asked to keep a distance of 2 metres when in public, and 1 metre when in ‘controlled environments’ such as a café.
On Thursday, Ardern was in Palmerston North where she visited food innovation sites Food HQ and Food Pilot at Massey University, and an Isles Construction apartment development site.
The controversial ‘selfie' photo was taken with a group of Ardern’s fans during her visit to the university.
In response to Seymour's criticism, a spokesperson for the Ardern said the PM asks members of the public to keep appropriate distancing when interacting and getting photos.
“There are a number of handshakes and hugs she unfortunately has to decline and best endeavours are made to keep separated when people ask for photos, but often members of the public will come very close to the prime minister which is difficult to control.”
Earlier this week, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the Covid-19 restrictions created a tough campaign environment.
“It's the worst campaign environment that I've been involved in because, not only is it in the cold months of the year, but it's in circumstances in which people cannot be meeting, can't assemble in halls and you can't have a traditional political dialogue. But we'll get by and we'll keep doing what we can do in the circumstances.”
National leader Judith Collins, also told media that campaigning this year “certainly has its challenges”, but there were opportunities too.
She said they were using social media more, and were using a lot more opportunities to talk through media.
While on the campaign trail in the South Island this month, Collins was pictured cuddling a baby that also tried to suck her hand.