4 Oct 2012

Maori authority supports Tyson's visit

10:10 pm on 4 October 2012

The head of an urban Maori authority is lending its support to a bid by convicted rapist and former World Champion boxer Mike Tyson to visit New Zealand on a speaking tour.

Tyson was to give a presentation at the Day of the Champions event at Vector Arena in Auckland as part of a trip to New Zealand and Australia in November.

But on Wednesday, Associate Minister of Immigration Kate Wilkinson cancelled his visa after anti-drugs charity the Life Education Trust withdrew an earlier letter of support for his visit.

The American was found guilty of rape in 1992 and spent three years in jail, serving half of a six-year sentence. People with sentences of more than five years are automatically declined entry to New Zealand if they apply for a normal visa.

The Manukau Urban Maori Authority decided on Wednesday night to help the tour's promoter re-apply for a visa.

Chief executive Willie Jackson says he only supports Tyson's tour on the condition that he visits South Auckland to speak to troubled youth.

"Our whole organisation is based on redemption. We have had some of New Zealand's most high-profile criminals go through our organisation in terms of redemption, in terms of turning people's lives around.

"If Tyson can help in that area and if we've got a chance to get him, we'll grab him."

Mr Jackson says a letter urging the minister to approve the visa will be sent on Friday morning.

The Waipareira Trust, which provides health, social and youth services in west Auckland, also supports the trip. Chief executive John Tamihere says Tyson's story of how he turned his life around would affect some young people who would be more inclined to listen to him than to others.

Promoter Max Markson says Tyson's visa application will be lodged again.