15 Sep 2011

Ngai Tahu disturbed by racist email to Dunedin school

7:36 pm on 15 September 2011

A prominent Maori leader from Ngai Tahu says he is appalled by an email sent to a Dunedin school criticising it for flying the Maori flag.

An Otago business man, Geoff Portman, wrote to the school demanding it take down its Maori flag and he attached what is being described as a "vitriolic" email that has been circulating on the internet.

It accuses Maori of illustrating their separateness and division from other New Zealanders by having their own flag and insisting on flying it alongside the New Zealand one.

In another extract the email accuses Maori of robbery, car conversion, rape and bashing the elderly.

Te Runanga o Otakou spokesperson, Tahu Potiki, says the email is disturbing and that, sadly, this sort of attitude still exists in small pockets of society.

Email "uninformed and innaccurate" says De Bres

The Race Relations conciliator Joris De Bres says he's disturbed at the contents of the email and it is a shame the school has had to put up with it.

He says the comments are uninformed and inaccurate and reflect the attitudes of some people in New Zealand society who believe the country should have single monocultural identity.

Meanwhile the school says Mr Portman's barking up the wrong flagpole.

It says it flies many flags at the gates to celebrate the diversity of its community and it's proud to embrace the principle of partnership set out in the Treaty of Waitangi.