Maori flag critic not sorry

A businessman is unrepentant after forwarding a racially charged email to a Dunedin school over its decision to fly Maori flags.

Geoff Portman told the Otago Daily Times he was so incensed to see North East Valley Normal School flying "the so-called Maori flags" he sent the school the following email:"I am a concerned citizen, when I see the mixed array of flags that are hoisted every school morning outside the NEV School. Talk about mixed messages, when what this country needs is some national pride and a sense of belonging.

"I suggest you read the attached message, and then review your confused teaching."

The attached email, from an acquaintance, titled "I wish I was a Maori", says Maori have special privileges, such as organisations and services, and ends with: "It's not a crime to be white YET ... but getting very close."

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Otakou representative Tahu Potiki said he was "surprised that supposedly educated community and business leaders would get into such ignorant behaviour".

"The information is so erroneous, loaded and one-sided and many of those things can be disproven. I understand people can have attitudes worked up over time about the place of Maori in New Zealand society, but as as a community we have moved well beyond this sort of [rubbish]."

Mr Portman, a manager with Export Link Otago, said he stood by his comments but regretted forwarding the email as it had the name of the person who had sent it to him.

That person had been the subject of abuse and received a written warning from his company, he said.

He admitted the forwarded email "was a bit inflammatory" in parts, including the lines: "You rob us, convert our cars, rape our women and bash our elderly.

But if a white police officer shoots a Maori or a Maori gang member, or assaults a Maori criminal running from the law and posing a threat to society, you scream racism."

Mr Portman said he sent the email because the school principal was against National Standards but was "teaching all this Maori culture, which is basically culture that's been made up as it goes along".

He had sent the email in good faith and on behalf of his local community, and had hoped the flags would be taken down.

"We are all one people here and this division is not good for the country."

When asked if he was Maori, Mr Portman said he had connections with Waitaha but had chosen not to enrol with the tribe.

Asked if he had Maori blood, he replied: "I guess I have."

North East Valley Normal School board of trustees chairman Steve O'Connor said the school flew flags that represented the diversity within the school, and would continue to do so.

"We are a diverse community. We recognise that and we celebrate it and we want our kids growing up in the atmosphere of doing the same."

Mr Potiki said schools should be allowed to fly flags such as the tino rangatiratanga, as it was "an accurate reflection of where our community has evolved to. Kids are so much more aware of Maori culture, Maori language, the history of New Zealand. It is really very very good, and to have some guy drag us back to the dark ages ... it needs to be challenged."



Mr Wonka: and yet Māori is legally an offical language of New Zealand, equal under the law with English - perhaps you're right and it should be compulsory in school

Maori flag

"Ka nui te pai o koutou whakaako me o koutou tautoko o nga whanau katoa no reira, tenei te mihi ki a koutou katoa." I don't know what the heck this means, and what's more I don't care, but until learning the Maori language is compulsory in New Zealand, speak English please.

Maori flag

For a lot of New Zealanders, myself included, the Maori flag and the term Pakeha have negative racist connotations.

Our publicly funded schools should not be seen flying a flag which to some is divisive symbol. Were there also flags representing the other sectors of our multicultural population?

Plain wrong

"We are all one people here and this division is not good for
the country."

And yet this man is the only one who is creating a division. I'm part of the community Geoff Portman is talking about. And he categorically does not speak for me.

Support for the school.

Good on NEV School. This is a free country and as such the school can fly any flag they wish.

Does Mr Portman recognise the irony in this email he forwarded? Although entitled "I Wish I Was Maori". the email apparently then descends into racial attacks including the line "You rob us, convert our cars, rape our women and bash our elderly" I wonder who the "us" is, as Mr Portman goes on to say we are all one people here.

"We are all one people here and this division is not good for the country." However, a more divisive, inflammatory email would be difficult to find.

Mr Portman claims he sent the email in good faith and on behalf of his local community.  Well, as a Pakeha member of the community, I can tell you Mr Portman, you do not speak for me. [Abridged]

Maori flag critic not sorry

I was sad, angry and frustrated to read this article.  As a NEV resident and parent at the school, I am proud to see the flags flying every morning. What a great way to broaden the minds and experiences of our tamariki.  All families are supported at the school and the inclusion of firstly, both heritages of Aotearoa/New Zealand and also, the many cultures of children and families in our community, is something to be celebrated. 

I agree with Tahu Potiki that I too thought we had moved past this type of ignorant behaviour but I guess not.  Mr Portman said he was speaking on behalf of the community, I wonder how many of those living in the valley were consulted?  Please do not speak on behalf of all when you did not consult everyone as I am sure that your views are not shared by everyone who lives in NEV. 

Thank you Steve for supporting our school and community.  I would also like to thank the teachers of the school for supporting all families.  Ka nui te pai o koutou whakaako me o koutou tautoko o nga whanau katoa no reira, tenei te mihi ki a koutou katoa.

National Pride?

"National pride and a sense of belonging"?

Maybe Mr Portman should be more concerned about the selling off of NZ farmland to the Chinese, or the planned sale of Kiwibank by the National party. I can think of a hundred such examples, but then this is not really about national pride, is it? 

If we really want to examine what is eroding our values as a nation, perhaps we would be better off examining out of control immigration laws and blatant disregard for human rights over profit.

Truly, with such an attitude we are not far off the path from becoming a third world country, as a matter of fact we are almost there. 

Godzone? Huh....

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