No staff identified in probe of 'racism' at Akl council ceremony

12:23 pm on 23 December 2016

Auckland Council has been unable to identify the Town Hall staff member who blocked the Samoan family of a councillor from their VIP seating at his swearing-in ceremony.

Mayor Phil Goff and councillor Efeso Collins at the Auckland Council swearing in ceremony.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff, at left, and councillor Efeso Collins at the Auckland Council swearing in ceremony in November. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Councillor Efeso Collins had likened the action of the usher who did not believe his family were entitled to sit in the restricted area to racism.

The council's manager of democracy services, Marguerite Delbet, said both Mr Collins and the council had agreed to move on from last month's incident.

Ms Delbet said the matter had been investigated but the person who caused the offence and upset has not been identified.

It has decided as a result to focus on staff training on how to better engage with Auckland's diverse communities.

Ms Delbet said the family was eventually seated in the reserved area at the Auckland Town Hall ceremony.

At the time, Mr Collins told RNZ he was disgusted and that it was up to the council to break down racial preconceptions.

"If I'm still being challenged like that now, you can imagine the experience of the very people I represent, where every day we're confronted with this type of thinking."

Mr Collins said he was happy with the outcome of the investigation.

"One of the things I hope will come out of this is that people will be invited to reflect on some of the unconscious biases and flaws in thinking, and ask whether that's part of the new diverse Auckland that we want to be a part of," he said.

"We still feel the deep embarrassment and humiliation, but have made public the way we felt and now it's time to move on and be a part of the new process, as a group."

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