30 Sep 2015

War of words over Chris Brown concert continues

2:43 pm on 30 September 2015

American singer Chris Brown might bring a positive message when he performs in New Zealand, but an anti-violence group says that is no justification for letting him into the country.

Chris Brown

Chris Brown Photo: AFP

The singer, who has been convicted of assault and threatening to kill, is due to perform in Auckland on 18 December, but the show is in doubt because he needs a special waiver to enter New Zealand.

Brown has been convicted of domestic violence and is automatically blocked from entering New Zealand because he's been excluded from other countries. Australia has given formal notice it will consider refusing him a visa.

A number of high-profile New Zealanders, including Dame Tariana Turia, are supporting Brown's visit and the war of words over his entry into the country has continued today.

A justice campaigner today said Brown should be allowed entry, as a positive message could come out of his concert for his younger audience.

Hoani Waititi Marae trust operations manager Shane White said Brown had the power to get messages across to young people.

"It's still all about a concert and making money, but if we can leverage anything off that crowd, then it's all a contribution to the common cause. I doubt that it would be life-changing and stop domestic violence in New Zealand overnight, but it's still a contribution."

He said people should have an opportunity to rectify their misdeeds.

But anti-violence group Shine said while Brown could speak out as a role model against domestic violence, it was still no justification for letting him into the country.

Shine spokesperson Jill Proudfoot said Brown's team could be using the platform simply as a strategy to get to New Zealand.

"I don't think it's appropriate when I've seen no sign of him coming out and being genuinely apologetic, not a self-serving apology. So I don't think there is any justification in making an exception for him."

Brown made his first public statement on the matter on Twitter, saying he would be grateful to be given entry to Australia.

Some MPs, including Labour's Sue Moroney and National's Judith Collins, have said Brown is not welcome in New Zealand.

But yesterday he found an ally in Dame Tariana, who said she believed in forgiveness.

She said Brown "had a lot to offer" and "can only bring something good" to young people and that his messages would resonate with them.

But her comments have dismayed Tiaria Fletcher, from Waitakere Anti-Violence Essential Services (WAVES) in west Auckland.

Ms Fletcher said Chris Brown still had a long way to go before he "earned the right" to come into New Zealand and give messages to rangatahi.

"I think there's another message that Tariana Turia is missing - and that message is the bigger message about us as a country saying 'no' to family violence.

"As a country we have amongst the worst family violence statistics in the world, and as Māori, family violence statistics are devastating for us," she said.

Australia has already taken a step toward blocking Chris Brown from going there for the same One Hell of a Nite tour.

With tickets already on sale here, there is still no word on whether he will apply to come to New Zealand.

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