Pacific Media Watch newsdesk
Aotearoa New Zealand’s chair of the Māori Council, Matthew Tūkākī, has revealed the degree of “horrific abuse” he has been facing in a Today FM radio discussion about the forthcoming Tauranga byelection in the city claimed to be a hotspot of white supremacy and racism.
He joined Lloyd Burr on Today’s Lloyd Burr Live programme to discuss the safety reasons why the opposition Te Pāti Māori will not contest the byelection.
The party says it is because they feel “too unsafe” in the area, reports Today FM.
- LISTEN TO TODAY FM: The full interview with Māori Council chair Matthew Tukaki
- Te Pāti Māori’s racism safety concerns: ‘I see it daily’
- Other racism in New Zealand reports
They say racist leaflets and threats are common.
Tukaki defended Te Pati Māori’s decision, saying: “I think they’ve done the right thing.”
He said he hoped that New Zealand could address racism, or the Tauranga controversy could be an indicator of things to come with next year’s general election.
“As somebody who himself, who’s been on the back end of a significant amount of racist correspondence, emails, letters and messages from people who sadly reside in my former hometown of Tauranga, [Te Pati Māori] are absolutely justified,” Tūkākī said.
All New Zealanders ‘should be concerned’
“All Māori, all New Zealanders should be concerned.
“Not every person in the beautiful city of Tauranga is a racist or a white supremacist. I don’t think anyone’s alluding to that.
“What we do have is great concern for the activity that’s unfolding in that by-election.”
Presenter Burr asked Tūkākī about his first-hand experience with racism and hatred and supremacy.
“I get called n****r every single day in Facebook messages on fake profiles to my account. I had a six-page letter arrive at my home in Point Chevalier that was handwritten,” he told Today FM.
“He was emboldened enough so much to write his name, contact details and even sign the letter and the content. In that basically called me a black bastard. And I and any number of other things under the sun.
“I get messages calling me a dirty black bastard, you filthy gang mongrel. You this, you that.
“It’s relentless. It is absolutely relentless for the last couple of years, just because I choose to represent my people and pushed kaupapa that I know is going to change their lives for the better.”
Tūkākī told Today FM: “I don’t want [the abusers’] children to listen to this crap and then go to school and repeat it to little Māori kids or Pasifika kids or Asian kids — I’m tired.”
The byelection, for the seat left vacant by the resignation of former opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges, is on June 18. Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s most affluent and fastest growing cities with a population of more than 132,000.